A Late Victorian Reverse Glass Sign Written Advertising Mirror c.1870-80

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Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1870-80
Height: 24.25”
Width: 17”
Depth: 1.5” (in frame)

The wonderfully decorative high Victorian reverse glass painted signwritten advertising mirror for Neale, Gilder, Signwriter & General Decorator, the script painted on banners in vivid coral reds and golds with black and electric blue highlights, to a plum coloured ground, in its original ebonised frame, and surviving from the third quarter of nineteenth century England.

This mirror, presented in its original ebonised frame, is in superb original condition and has wear to the frame and flecked losses to the paint, as pictured. The original backboards remain in place and she proves sturdy and heavy.

The popularity of glass as a building material and for decoration in particular increased after the Great Exhibition of 1851, the centrepiece of which, the Crystal Palace, used glass with great extravagance. A technique known as ‘back-painting’ became popular in the 1870s and brought rich colour into play, as we see with this example. The style of the painting here is reminiscent of that of the circus and fairground painting of the time and it is probable Mr Neale worked within that trade too.

Paintings which have been reverse painted on glass have the picture or information painted on the back of the glass so that it can be seen the correct way round from the front and is protected by the glass. It is a technique that has been used for portrait and landscape paintings which were then framed, for advertisements often on mirrors such as this, and for decorating the inside of bottles.

A rare survivor; they just don’t come more original than this.

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