A Beautiful c.1780 Venetian Glass & Ormolu Mounted Wall Mirror

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Origin: Venetian
Period: Late Eighteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1770-1790
Height: 11.25 inches   
Width: 10 inches (at maximum)
Depth: 2 inches

The very fine two inch thick gilded foliate and scroll frame rectangular frame having intricately hand crafted alternating embossed brass, twisted clear glass cane strands, ormulu mounts and mirror plate glass segments with the original central plate survives from the second half of the eighteenth century.

This unusually small mirror is in very attractive but slightly tired condition, understandably given age, though she proves wonderfully decorative in this respect. The original thick plate glass has many attractive areas of foxing as one would expect. The gilding as a whole has areas of wear with small areas of chipping and a small crack to one of the smaller glass panels. The ormolu mounts are all present. There are some losses to the glass bead-work in some areas. The chipping to the gilt is mainly to the more protruding parts but in general its imperfect condition is part of its appeal and there isn’t any major issue which one notices more than any other. To the reverse there is a hand written marking of ‘218 CA=’.

Venetian glass and indeed mirrors hardly need any introduction. The Venetians invented a "flat mirror technique” by figuring out how to attach tin to a flat glass surface and also created a special reflective mixture in which gold and bronze was added. Because of this "magical" mixture all objects reflecting in the mirrors looked much more beautiful than in reality. The cost of one Venetian mirror then was comparable to the cost of the large naval ship. This high quality production spread like wild fire and in 1569, Venetian mirror makers banned together in corporations, developing new techniques. At the end of the XVI century, diamond-point engraving became common for glass and mirrors produced in Murano.
 The next century saw the development of decorative mirrors in Venice, this particular mirror being a product of that development. Wood frames were covered with strips of cut mirror, and enhanced with glass reeds, flowers and leaves. (Muranese glass master Giuseppe Briati is credited for developing this concept). The sheets were also decorated with oil paints, while the mirrors’ wooden parts were varnished or painted gold according to the tastes of the time.

A beautifully faded grand old dame of delicate proportions and lavish quality, which displays how wonderful imperfection, can be.

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