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A Story of French Marriage Mirrors

18th Century French Marriage Mirrors - Proper Antiques

A French marriage mirror, also known as a "trumeau mirror," is a type of decorative mirror that originated in France during the 18th century. These mirrors were typically placed above a fireplace mantel or a console table and were a common element in French interior design during that period.

a red chair with an antique french mirror hanging above

They were often used as decorative focal points in elegant living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.

Design Characteristics

The distinguishing feature of a French marriage mirror is its composition. It consists of a large, rectangular mirror framed by an elaborately decorated wooden or gilded frame. What makes them unique is the presence of a painted or decorative panel above the mirror, in the upper portion of the frame. This panel often featured intricate paintings, sculptures, or ornate carvings, and it was designed to complement the overall decor of the room.


Along with a dowry chest, linens and silver, a mirror was a traditional wedding gift during this time, but these traditions eventually fell out of favour in the early 20th Century.

You will see that this mirror has two extended feet at the bottom and it is also said that they were made to fit into the flange at the back of the dowry chest—the idea being that a young married couple wouldn’t be nailing things on walls, as they would just be renting. This gives the woman a traveling chest or household kit that can store all of her silver, linens and everything in between, while supplying her with a functional mirror and space for doing her makeup. Think of it as the 18th century French bridal equivalent to a dressing table. Once the couple could afford their own house, the extended feet would be taken off and it would then be hung on the wall, so you will see versions with and without the extended feet. Maybe this couple ended up divorced !!!!

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