Tondo mirror frame

Artist: Possibly workshop of Benedetto da Maiano (Italian, Maiano 1442–1497 Florence)

Date: ca. 1480

Medium: Stucco squeeze, blown convex mirror, gilt, orange-brown bole.

Dimensions: Overall, 54.5 x 37.5 cm; sight, 12.7 x 13 cm.

Classification: Frames

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.2158


Round, or tondo, frames housing mirrors or devotional images were a popular type of domestic furnishing in Tuscany in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The convex glass of this mirror is original and is characteristic of fifteenth-century mirrors throughout Europe. The shallow relief frame was made by pressing stucco into a mold, a technique commonly encountered in sculpture and architectural decoration from the late Middle Ages onward. Neither the shield held by the two putti at the bottom of the frame nor the monogram on the reverse, presumably the maker's mark traced into the wet stucco, has been identified. The style of the ornament, especially the putti, has been associated with the workshop of Benedetto da Maiano (1442–1497), a prominent Florentine sculptor who was also active in Siena, where this frame may have been made. Although they entered the Museum with the gift of his collection in 1975, the remarkable antique frames assembled by Robert Lehman were not accessioned as works of art until 1990 in preparation for the landmark exhibition "The Gilded Edge: The Art of the Frame."