Early Mid Victorian 1900th century papier-mâché mirror made by Charles Frederick Bielefeld with original mercury glass


An extremely rare example by the British designer Charles Frederick Bielefeld. This mirror dates to around 1850-1860. It features beautifully painted cobalt blue and gold painted papier-mâché frame. The numerous decoration features imitation cabochons of blue. The mirrored glass has wear mainly in the centre which only enhances the patina of this rare survivor.
The use of papier-mâché was incredibly popular by the 1770's.
It was used at Robert Walpole's Strawberry gothic mansion. It was used to make the majority of the mouldings. In the 1840's, Charles Frederick Bielefeld came to dominate the production of papier mâché ornament, patenting not only the materials for the mouldings but also for the reproduction of the moulds themselves. Wear and tear on the moulds was considerable in 19th century papier mâché production, as manufacturers used mechanical presses, and Bielefeld’s patent included the use of iron filings in the mix to provide the necessary durability and resilience. His layered papers by this time were allowed to dry naturally, before being oil-saturated and dried a second time in stoves.
Papier mâché panel, however, was not solely used for japanned ware. It was used in the fitting out of ships and also, more experimentally, for a sort of pre-fab housing, where panels of papier mâché were bolted together. The Illustrated London News featured such a project by Bielefeld in 1853, reporting how the buildings had been exported to Melbourne after testing in British downpours in Staines. They are reported to have survived. Panels of papier mâché could also be painted and used in rather grander decorative schemes, and Jones notes that panels made by Clay and painted by Angelica Kauffmann were used by Adam, for example at Kedleston Hall.
It measures 60cm tall by 52cm wide. The original stamp of the patent is featured to the rear.
You are welcome to collect from London SE25.


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