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Dressing Glass

Evans, James
Place Made:
Richmond Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany, white pine
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Dressing glass on stand; base contains three small drawers; double-baluster turned posts support the framed looking glass; double row of lightwood banding around the looking glass frame and the front of the case; turned feet.

MAKER: James Evans first appeared as a carver and gilder in New York City in 1810. During the War of 1812, he reported that he was 36 years old, 5 foot, 9 inches tall with a fair complextion and sandy hair, a carver by trade from Great Britain. By 1817, Evans had relocated to Richmond, Virginia, where he advertised in the local newspapers his skills as a carver, gilder, and picture frame maker. The rough, unfinished condition of the white pine drawer bottoms might indicate a northern origin and that Evans simply imported and labeled this piece, although Evans’s advertisements in Richmond indicate that he sold articles of his own make.

The label itself was engraved and signed by John Blennerhassetet Martin (1797-1857), an Irish-born craftsman who, like Evans, arrived first in New York but moved to Richmond by 1816. There, he advertised as a “Seal Cutter and Engraver.” He continued to work as an engraver and lithographer, but after 1840 he focused primarily on his career as an artist. Martin painted portraits of Chief Justice John Marshall, US Senator Benjamin Watkins Leigh, and James Armistead Lafayette, an African-American patriot of the American Revolution. John B. Martin and his family are buried in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

INSCRIPTION: On label, “JAMES EVANS, LOOKING-GLASS AND PICTURE/ FRAME MAKER MAIN STREET RICHMOND, VA./ Pictures, Portraits & Ladies Needle Work/ Elegantly framed in Oil or Burnish[ed]/ Gilding Looking-Glass Plates Resilvered and old Work Reguilt/ N.B. Piano Fortes tuned and Repaired. – J.B. Martin, Sc., Richmd.”

The original owner of this dressing glass was apparently Mary (Montfort) Jones (1760-1825) of Halifax County, North Carolina, whose estate inventory listed “5 dressing glasses – 2 new with drawers.” It descended to her son, Willie W. Jones (1784-1838) who died unmarried and without children, and his provate inventory listed “”1 Looking glass with drawer” in the downstairs chamber and also in the “middle Room upstairs” at The Grove, outside of Halifax. This glass then went to his sister, Martha Burke Jones (1798-1862), who had married on April 15, 1809 United States Senator John Wayles Eppes (1773-1823) of Millbrook Plantation in Buckingham County, Virginia, and then to her daugher Sarah Ann Eppes, who married Dr. Edmund Wilcox Hubard (1806-1878) of Saratoga Plantation in Buckingham County. The dressing glass was sold at a 1930 estate sale at Saratoga, along with portraits of Mrs. Jones’s parents, Joseph and Priscilla (Hill) Montfort (see MESDA Acc. 2539.1) and one of a pair of Edenton card tables that had belonged to her father-in-law, North Carolina colonial attorney general Robert Jones (1718-1766) (see MESDA Acc. 2720 and 5818).
Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton