Thursday, 21 July 2011

Not Your Usual Mirror

This mirror, with its similarly gilded over painting, is in France. The ceiling must be very tall indeed for this combination to have been attempted. At a guess, the ceiling could be about 20 feet high. 
This is a remarkable picture of a surviving 18th century, domestic, interior scene; both very grand and very homely: exquisite carving and gilding and colourful painting combined with rough textures of rubble within the fireplace and logs casually leaning against an adjacent scratched wall. It is not what I would have ever expected to see, in a book dedicated to showcasing French interiors which date from the 18th century.

But back to that very grand mirror and its equally grand over painting which tops everything off with wit and colour. Mirrors and over paintings like these are not the usual choice except for very grand interior decorating schemes. In the past, when this type of mirror, with or without the over painting, was included in an interior design scheme it meant just one thing really: new money pretending to be tasteful, old world money.

I once found one of these mirror and over painting combinations, in one piece, at an auction. It was a laugh-out-loud moment when I discovered that outside of the mirror, everything else was plastic and spray "gold". It was so authentic looking that I had to physically touch it to be really sure that it was Plastic! Delightful! I think it would be great fun to have the plastic rendion casually leaning against the wall, as if it were on its way out to a client.  I wish I had bought it. But, I was thinking in a practical way that day - no wall space left in my apartment. This sort of plastic rendition, of course, is meant to be installed in one's grandiose livingroom or front parlor to emulate the moneyed classes. 
Most of the time, these unusual mirror and over painting combinations are on the same wood background or are connected by applied and gilded decoration. The cost of anything with true 18th century pedigree means that you place them in a room with some of your best collections. Nowadays this creates a whole picture of decorating assurance.
The picture above is just such a combination of painted and carved and gilded wood backed mirror and overpainting. And it is exquisite.
Here is the last and smallest wood mounted mirror and over painting; freed from any immediate connection to an underlying console table or fireplace mantle.
It adds a grace note to a corner of this drawing room. The rest of the furniture is rather grand but this combination of mirror and over painting has no trouble standing up to it.

In order of appearance:
The French Interior in the Eighteenth Century. John Whitehead. 1992, Laurance King Publishing. Photography by J.M. Tardy.
Hunt Country Style. Kathryn Masson. 2008, Rizzoli, New York. Photography by Paul Rocheleau.

1 comment:

  1. Very beautiful post. I love the idea of incorporating a painting and mirrow.

    Hope you are having a great summer