Antique Gothic Revival style carved ivory mirror frame


This exquisitely carved ivory mirror case would have been an essential part of a French aristocratic lady’s ‘trousse de toilette’ in the 19th Century.


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This ivory mirror case was created in the 19th Century, over 100 years ago. It is designed in a 14th-Century Gothic style. Its reverse is beautifully carved with low-relief scenes which are contained within a barbed quatrefoil profile. 

The profile accommodates two scenes, placed one on top of the other. The upper carved group depicts a crowned man (possibly a French king or a Christian leader) sitting on a tree stump. Four figures kneel before him with their palms raised in a sign of respect. In the lower section, the carving shows two pairs of figures, one touching palms and the other exchanging a crown or necklace. It is likely this scene depicts some aspect of courtly love which was a popular subject for the ornamentation of objects within an elite woman’s toilette set.

Carvings of grotesque creatures decorate the space between the quatrefoil profile and the case’s circular frame. The outer edge of the frame is carved with four crawling monsters with human faces. The mirror would have been fitted into the front of the case.


This ivory carving was in the collection of Mr and Mrs George Cowell in the early 20th Century. When Mrs Cowell died in 1925, some twenty items from the collection were bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. At the time, a press release was issued, reading ‘The Victoria and Albert Museum has received an important accession to its collection of Medieval and Renaissance Art by the bequest of the late Mrs George Cowell. Her son Mr Athelstan Riley has generously renounced a life interest in the bequest and the objects are now on exhibition in the Central Court of the Museum.’ Athelstan Riley lived at No. 2 Kensington Court, London and later at The Manor of La Trinité in Jersey. He was the grandfather of the previous owner.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Biblical, Christian, Gothic, Religious


12 cm / 4.7 inches
11 cm / 4.3 inches


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