Antiquités Ségal, Basel, Switzerland, their sale 23rd June 2012, lot 267.
A very fine and highly ornate German Louis XV period moulded and finely carved giltwood trumeau mirror, the moulded frame surmounted by a scalloped cartouche cresting flanked by floral and foliate sprays with further acanthus sprays across the shaped top and with roses to the corners and further floral garlands to the sides, the lower frame with a central scallop crest and the central upper cross bar with another scallop motif flanked by floral and foliate sprays, the top of the trumeau enclosing an oil painting on canvas in the style of Charles François Lacroix, known as Lacroix de Marseille, portraying a coastal scene with cliffs to the left, a sailing vessel and rowing boat loaded with cargo slightly off shore, with figures on the beach including an elegantly dressed lady on horseback who points out to sea as she is attended by a gentleman, with further courtiers as well as porters along the shoreline. The painting above the original two part mirrored glass
Most probably Frankfurt, date circa 1760-70
Height 225 cm, width 85 cm.
The terms trumeau, which is of French origin, was used to designate the interior space between two windows. It was then applied to describe a pier-glass which was hung on a wall between two windows so as to provide both a decorative element and to bring increased light into a room. By the mid eighteenth century the term was also used to describe a looking glass that hung over a mantelpiece; in front of it candles would be placed so as to emit further light into the room. As here eighteenth century trumeau mirrors tend to be highly ornamental and the frames are often gilded. The reflective glass is nearly always rectangular and as here often includes a decorative painting or montage at the top, above the mirror itself. Given the high quality of the carving and finish to the moulded frame as well as its size and intricate decoration, the present mirror would have been made for a grand residence.
A number of French trumeau mirrors included paintings of fête galantes in the style of Fragonard or Boucher within the upper section. The present scene however differs in that the scene is essentially a coastal scene though it also has a strong narrative element. For instance one wonders if the lady on horseback is saying her adieus to the gentleman beside her as her or another’s cargo is being transported via the rowing boat that waits along the shore line before joining the larger sailing vessel in the distance. The style and subject of the painting shares much in common with the work of Charles François Lacroix, known as Lacroix de Marseille, who was born circa 1700 in Marseille and died in Berlin in 1782. Lacroix was a pupil of Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) and amongst several other artists including Jean-Baptiste Pillement, Jean-Baptiste Lallemand, he probably ranks as his most illustrious follower. However, as here, Lacroix’s scenes tend to be less dramatic, the light more serene and the subject matter often quite enigmatic for he was known for his capricci, conceived in a semi-imaginary spirit, in which he combined known landmarks from several different places to create a new and unidentifiable view. Such paintings were much admired for their graceful compositions and warm Mediterranean light.
More recently the mirror was owned by the long established and much reputed Basel antiques gallery, Antiquités Ségal, run by Dr. Georges B Ségal and Margaret A. Ségal-Atkinson until a quantity of their stock was sold in Basel in 2012.