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Miroir de toilette au chiffre d'Anne Hyde, duchesse d'York, épouse du futur roi Jacques II d'Angleterre

© 2005 Musée du Louvre / Peter Harholdt

Decorative Arts
17th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

The fashion for toilet services probably appeared during first half of the seventeenth century in the court of France, whence it spread to Europe, and especially England. The mirror of Anne Hyde, Duchess of York (1637-1671), conserved in the Louvre, is a major expression of seventeenth-century goldsmithing. Adorned with very realistic floral decoration, this work by an unknown goldsmith reveals the rise of an ornamental exuberance at the time of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.

A highly refined work in gold

This rectangular mirror is made of gilt silver decoration applied over a mahogany core. The frame comprises eight identical sections with a floral border, covered with a decoration of repoussé and chased flowers and foliage on a matte ground. The junction of these eight elements is hidden, at the corners of the frame by Anne Hyde's soldered cipher and in the middle on the sides by a large floret. The frame is surmounted by an arched pediment made up of three assembled elements. It is decorated with symmetrical scrolling foliage on a matte ground, laid out on either side of Anne Hyde's cipher, which is crowned and encircled by a laurel wreath. The detail of the foliage and flowers is very fine and bears witness to the virtuosity of an unidentified Parisian goldsmith.

An ill-known commission

Anne Hyde (1637-1671) was the daughter of the first earl of Clarendon and a lady-in-waiting to Mary Stuart, Princess of Orange. The Duke of York, future James II of England, married her in secrecy on September 3, 1660. This marriage provoked the fury of the queen mother, Henriette-Marie de France, who would not accept to meet her daughter-in-law till January 1661, after the birth of the couple's first child, Charles, duke of Cambridge, who was then baptized. This mirror, the central element of a toilet service given to Anne Hyde, was probably manufactured in this context. Such toilet services were given to girls at the time of their marriage and were often completed when their children were born. It may be that the mirror was offered to the Duchess of York at the time of her son's baptism, which accompanied the family's reconciliation. The precise circumstances of the commission are not known, but the French origins of the queen mother undoubtedly played a role in choosing the goldsmith.

The prototype of late seventeenth-century toilet mirrors

Of the rare toilet mirrors that have come down to us, Anne Hyde's is the oldest. The reference would have been to Anne of Austria's gold toilet service, a lost work by Claude I Ballin (circa 1615-1678). These toilet mirrors were part of a set that included candlesticks, ointment jars, various containers, and all the objects required for the "toilet" (meaning hairstyling and makeup). Three other French toilet services remain today: one is conserved in Rosenborg castle (Copenhagen), another in the Edinburgh museum, and the third in the collections of the duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. The latter is that of Mary II Stuart, daughter of the Duchess of York and Princess of Orange. By virtue of its shape and its floral decoration, it may be said that Anne of York's mirror announces that of her daughter.

Bibliography

M. Bimbenet-Privat, Les Orfèvres et l'orfèvrerie de Paris au XVIIe siècle, t. 2, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2002, pp. 74-75

Catalogue d'exposition : "Un Temps d'exubérance. Les arts décoratifs sous Louis XIII et Anne d'Autriche", Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2002, p. 272

Technical description

  • Miroir de toilette au chiffre d'Anne Hyde, duchesse d'York, épouse du futur roi Jacques II d'Angleterre

    1660 - 1661

    Paris

  • Argent doré, acajou, amarante

    H. : 55,80 cm. ; L. : 55 cm.

  • Acquis en 1982 , 1982

    OA 10906

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Effiat
    Room 32

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Additional information about the work

Hallmarks:Master mark: unidentifiable (incomplete, illegible); Municipal mark: Paris 1660-1661 (crowned Q);Cipher ADDY with four corners and a pediment.