Pier Mirror and Window Cornices (two of three)

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Rococo Revival style, 1851
Made by Samson Cariss (fl. 1842-1863)

This extraordinarily large and ornate mirror frame with matching window cornices is perhaps the most dramatic use of the Ridgely family’s stag’s head crest at Hampton. The frame was designed and custom-made by Samson Cariss, the preeminent manufacturer of looking glasses in mid-19th century Baltimore. It was made for the Music Room at Hampton, where it hangs today. A sketch by Cariss with a written proposal which he sent to Eliza Ridgely in May of 1851 survives, as does the bill dated June 26, 1851. A workman who installed the mirror earlier that month also signed and dated the back of the frame, making this the single most thoroughly documented piece in Hampton’s collection. Cariss charged Mrs. Ridgely only $52.00 for the carved and gilded “richly ornamented” frame made in his shop in Baltimore, but the huge mirror plate imported from France cost $235.00 (about $10,000 in today’s money).

Wood, glass. H  294.6, W 208.3 cm; H  59.7, W 182.9 cm
Hampton National Historic Site, HAMP 1227; 1030, 1032