17th Century: dressing mirror, 1670

A Charles II beadwork and faux tortoiseshell dressing mirror, circa 1670

Sold at auction by Sotheby’s

Description: beadwork, wood, faux tortoiseshell

Dimension: height 26 1/2 in.; width 20 in. (67.3 cm; 50.8 cm)

Condition: Overall good condition; the faces of the figures replaced with later infilling; the center of the large flower to the right hand side above the fox also infilled; left corner beneath the upper left figure with losses; colors are vibrant and the beadwork is stable and beautifully executed; mirror plate appears to be replaced and with some crystallization and pitting; some minor knicsks and wear to ebonized edge.

17th Century: mirror

Mirror depicting scenes from the Book of Esther, 1650 or later

Mirror plate with losses to silvering and foxing. Beadwork with some losses, most extensively to the bottom left corner where the flower is lacking. Metal border with losses, bending and replacements. The faces of the figures are all lacking. Some restorations to beadwork. This mirror underwent professional conservation in 2014. Some earlier restorations were taken away and new beads were added to those areas.

Beadwork, like needlework, was produced by both young girls and professionals. Schools that taught needlework also taught this unique craft, as noted in an advertisement of 1681 by Hannah Woolley that stated “I can work well all manners of work.. all kinds of Beugle [bead]-work, upon wyers or otherwise..”. Beads had been imported from Venice and Amsterdam as early as the 1630s. Beads, unlike silk threads, retain their colors so that beadwork mirrors reveal the original colorful quality of seventeenth century embroidery.

Dimensions: Height: 26 3/4 in. by Width 22 in.


1: Freeman’s Auction, Philadelphia, November 13, 2013, sale 1476, lot 138.

2: Sotheby’s, January 20 2016,  lot 471.

A mirror of similar form was sold Sotheby’s New York, June 9, 2014, lot 167.

17th Century: 1662 Mirror

Looking glass or mirror, seven inches wide, in a wide frame with beadwork decoration arranged in two full-height verticals and two short horizontal panels

top and bottom. Yellow cord runs between the vertical and horizontal panels.


In each corner a medallion containing a figure of a woman, one of them being Diana with a bow and dog, the others represented with a horse, an alligator, and a cock. In the upper rectangle are three seated women (possibly the three Fates spinning) with a naked recumbent man below. To the left is Venus with Cupid and a peacock and, above, her chariot drawn by a pair of doves. To the right is a clothed woman, possibly Charity, with three naked children. Below is a composition of flowers, birds and beasts. Along the upper edge the inscription: ‘IM6 6W2’. The sight and back edges of the frame are lined with tooled brown leather, worked in a geometric pattern.

2018 – in a modern glazed case

  • Height: 71.1cm
  • Width: 66cm (Note: Thickness of frame estimated at 4cm.)

H 2′ 4″ W 2′ 2″ 2018 In a modern glazed case 75 x 70 x 6.5cm
Link to V&A page