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Dresser with Mirror

Decorative Arts and Design

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.
MEDIUM Laminated rosewood, marble, mirrored glass
DATES ca. 1855
DIMENSIONS 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)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION 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)
IMAGE overall, 39.31a-c_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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