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History of the Trumeau / A French style mirror

     A quick “history” of the origin of the Trumeau

     The trumeau is a mirror (pronounced troo-mo) set into tall wooden frames with a large section of painted or carved sculptural decoration at the top.  Almost always the trumeau is rectangular in size.  The bottom of the wooden framing was usually where the mirror was placed so a candle could be set in front to reflect light in dimly lit rooms.

     But, you may wonder – what are these unusual mirrors and where did they originate?

         Originating in France during the 18th century, the first original trumeaus were set in wood paneling – or what the French call boiserie (prounounced –  bwahzer-EE).  This boiserie was an actual wall element, a panel that would be inset over the fireplace mantel.  They were typically all wood with ornate decorative elements.

IMG_1917 A boiserie panel

     The introduction of glass into these wooden elements began in the early 17th and 18th century.  But, glass was expensive so at first it was unusual to have even small mirrors set into the decor.  As that resource availability changed, glass was incorporated into the wood.   The word trumeau was used to describe the mirror that would be placed in the thin section of wall between two doors or windows.   This was done to add a reflective decorative element to the wall and allow additional light to be thrown into the room. This technique was mostly seen in the more affluent homes due to the cost of glass.

     Below, an example of a trumeau with the decorative carved element above the mirror.


     And, lastly a trumeau with a painting inserted above the mirror in lieu of a carved element at the top.


trumeau with painting

trumeau with painting


Both styles are extremely popular and strictly personal preference.

     Trumeaus are often the essence of interior architectural detailing that originated and flourished in the 18th century and they have remained popular even today!

Au Revoir!  A la prochaine!