Buteux, cabinetmaker, Cheval mirror, France, c. 1814

Mahogany, gilt bronze, mirror glass
Bequest of Max Beulé, 1918
Inv. 20861
© Les Arts Décoratifs / photo: Jean Tholance

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Nowadays we think nothing of seeing ourselves full-length in a mirror, but it was still a novelty during the Empire. The cheval mirror first appeared during this period, and was reserved for ladies’ bedrooms. As is the case here, cheval mirrors were mounted on pivots so that they could swivel, and were flanked by torches.

Apart from its practical usefulness, the full-length mirror contributed to changing people’s perception of themselves and their bodies, which became the subject of increasing attention duing this period.

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