28.5" x 19.5"
This 19th-century mirror features an ebonized wood frame with classically-inspired carvings. The location of its manufacture is unknown. It belonged to Dr. Herman Schaepman (1844–1903) of Tubbergen – a village in the eastern Netherlands. He was ordained as a Doctor of Divinity in 1869 in Rome and was the first priest elected to the States General of the Netherlands. Dr. Schaepman campaigned for the Catholics' emancipation and also published several poems and articles on religion and politics during his life. Like many larger furniture pieces in this period, this mirror is made of ebonized wood. Dark-stained woods were fashionable in the late 19th century, as they evoked the look of ebony – an endangered, black-brown hardwood native to southern India, Sri Lanka, western Africa, and Indonesia. Antwerp had been the centre of fine cabinetry since the late 16th century, importing large quantities of ebony for the luxury market. Due to unsustainable harvesting, genuine ebony in the 19th century was usually limited to smaller objects, such as crucifixes and piano keys. Here, the rectangular frame has a rounded arch opening for the mirror, establishing a firmly classical silhouette. High and low-relief carvings characteristic of classic revival design, such as engaged columns, wreaths, and acanthus, bespeak Schaepman's status as a roman catholic priest. The heraldic shield at the top also champions a feathered quill, reinforcing Schaepman's identity as a writer. A high-relief wreath near the bottom acts as a focal point, and the Latin carving “Credo Pugno,” translated as “I believe, I fight” can be seen along the ribbon that flows outward from the wreath. Through his political writing and campaigning, Dr. Schaepman worked to win support for Catholic interests in government. While his bid for the Catholics' emancipation was rejected, Pope Leo XIII (1810–1903) recognized Schaepman's success in establishing a coalition between Catholics and anti-revolutionists, bestowing him the rank of domestic prelate and prothonotary Apostolic.
At this time in history, the Kingdom of the Netherlands had begun to develop a national economy through new government policies, such as eliminating internal tariffs and a unified coinage system. A constitutional monarchy was proclaimed in 1848, and several years later, suffrage was introduced. After the mid-19th century, the liberal government was replaced by the conservatives, and the Vatican's reestablishment of the Catholic episcopate led to Protestant riots. The conservative government maintained the liberals' reforms and granted the Catholics equality after two centuries of limited power. Approximately 35% to 40% of Dutch citizens belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and the remaining majority were Protestants. A powerful number of secular liberals also fought to limit religious influence in the country. The second half of the century was defined by the emergence of distinct internal borders based on religion.