Dresser with Mirror
On View: Special Exhibition Gallery, 4th Floor
These two dressers were produced in New York about a generation apart for style-conscious, upper-middle-class consumers. The Belter dresser, with its undulating contours and profusion of naturalistic decoration, is a masterpiece of the Rococo Revival style, while the later, ebonized dresser is in the more geometric Aesthetic Movement style. The Aesthetic Movement represented a conscious rejection of the perceived excesses of the overwrought revival style that preceded it. Its proponents urged design reforms based on Augustus Pugin’s principles (see the gaming table nearby), as well as new lessons learned from the art of Japan. Although both dressers were considered stylish when made, it is the simple rectilinear form and flattened, abstract decoration of the later piece that appear “modern” to us today.
Laminated rosewood, marble, mirrored glass
95 x 49 1/2 x 25 in. (241.3 x 125.7 x 63.5 cm)
base height: 34 1/2 in. (87.6 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor
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John Henry Belter (American, born Germany, 1804-1863). Dresser with Mirror, ca. 1855. Laminated rosewood, marble, mirrored glass, 95 x 49 1/2 x 25 in. (241.3 x 125.7 x 63.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor, 39.31a-c. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 39.31a-c_PS6.jpg)
overall, 39.31a-c_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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