This magnificent cheval mirror with its accompanying desk can confidently be attributed to the turner Karl Schmidt, who was one of the leading mother-of-pearl craftsmen in Vienna in the early 19th Century. He won a bronze medal for mother-of-pearl novelties at the first Austrian insdustrial exhibition, held in Vienna in 1835. No mother-of-pearl furniture by him was known to have survived until the re-appearance of these lots. The only larger object that can be traced to be by him is a toilet mirror in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London that is dated 1821 (S. Jervis, Art & Design in Europe and America 1800 - 1900 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1987, p. 40). Schmidt collaborated with the entrepreneur Stefan Syré and ran a workshop at Kohlmarkt 1152 known as 'Zur Stadt Carlsbad'. An article in the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur und Mode of 1829 describes the desk:
The eye delights in the shapely form of the oval table surface to which the overlapping mother-of-pearl plates are affixed in a rose blossom pattern. The shape of the base with its bronze decor agrees with that of the upper part with a pleasing lightness.
The text continues to include a mother-of-pearl and gilt bronze armchair that was made en suite with the table and elaborates that they were the second execution of this model. The first set was supplied to the King of Prussia, while this second group was commissioned by the King of England. There is no record of such a table ever having been in the Royal Collection and the early death of George IV in 1830 may indeed have prevented an actual delivery of the pieces.
It is further interesting to note the particular interest of the Spanish court in mother-of-pearl objects. A suite of furniture including a canapé, six chairs, a table, two mirrors and two clocks was supplied to the King of Spain by Johann Tanzwohl of Vienna circa 1820-30, while a travelling necesaire bearing the cypher of Ferdinand VII, King of Spain between 1814 and 1833, was supplied by Nicolas Rozet probably in 1819 (Christie's, London, 28 May 1992, lot 177). Little noticed is also a suite of mother-of-pearl furniture, comprising two side chairs, a canapé, a dressing table and a clock, that is at Rough Point, Doris Duke's Newport mansion, which may indeed be part of the suite supplied to the King of Spain by Tanzwohl.
Around 1800 this French mirror form was named a Psyche after Cupid's love; and a pattern for a related Psyche or glace a ecran, also with Apollo griffin feet, featured in La Mesangere's, Collection des Meubles et Objets de Gout, 1807, pl. 1152).
We are grateful to Dr. Christian Witt-Dörring, Curator of Furniture and Woodwork at the Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, for his permission to use his research on this and the preceding lot.