Mirrors
hand-crafted in Italy carved wood mirror with shell design and mirrored insets. Decorative mirror is finished in antique gold leaf
Italian style mirror
Neoclassic style vertical carved wood mirror with leaf scrolls design
Neoclassic style mirror
18th-century Italian style carved wood mirror in gold leaf finish
Italian style mirror
Adam style carved wood and wrought iron oval mirror with leaf drops and floral design
Adam style mirror
18th century Tuscan style carved wood mirror with hand-painted medium brown finish and antique gold leaf trim
Tuscan style mirror
18th-century Italian style carved wood mirror in gold leaf finish
Italian style mirror
 
ancient mirrors

The History of Mirrors

The history of mirrors starts in the III Century B.C. Most ancient mirrors were made from metal and had a round shape. The back side of the ancient mirrors was beautifully embellished with ornamentation. Mirrors were made from highly polished bronze and silver. The first glass mirrors were invented in I Century by Romans.

From ancient times special qualities had been given to mirrors, that no other object had. The Greek philosopher Socrates gave advice to young men to look at themselves in the mirror, and those who were handsome should focus their life on keeping their souls clean and stay away from the temptations of life that could take them on the wrong path. If a young man would find that he is not handsome, he should compensate for his look from his heart, and get known for doing a lot of good things.

In Medieval period glass mirrors completely disappeared, because during those times religious confessions stated that devil is looking and watching the world from the opposite side of a glass mirrors. Poor fashionable ladies had to use a polished metal mirrors or special water bowls instead of glass mirrors.

Glass mirrors came back only in 13th century. This time they were bended slightly outward. The method of attaching tin to the flat surface of the glass wasn't invented yet. Using available technology master glaziers poured hot tin into glass tubs, and then, after the tin was cold, they would brake it into separate pieces.

glass mirror

Only three centuries later Venetian masters invented a "flat mirror technique". They figured out how to attach tin to a flat glass surface. Venetian masters invented another trick. They 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.

lady and mirror

In a city of Nuremberg (Germany) in 1373 the first mirror manufacturing plant was open. Mirrors were then aggressively integrated in all aspects of life. In the 16th century mirrors become a part of mysterious rituals and witchcraft. Also, for 200 years mirrors were used by Spanish and French spies for coding and decoding secret messages. This secret coding system was introduced in 15th century by Leonardo da Vinci. The scriptures were coded in "mirror reflection" and without the mirror it was impossible to read the message. Mirrors were part of another big invention of the time - the periscope. The opportunity to discreetly spy on ones enemy by using a system of interactive mirrors saved a lot of lives during wars. During the famous Thirty Year war, mirrors were used by all sides to blind the enemy during military actions with bright reflection of sun light. It was very hard to take aim when your eyes are blinded by thousands of tiny mirrors.

Venetian mirror  - Venetian glass mirror framed in hand-etched glass with gold highlights
Venetian glass mirror
Venetian mirror framed in hand-etched glass with gold highlights
Venetian glass mirror
Venetian mirror framed in hand-etched antiqued glass with gold highlights, trimmed with glass ribbons and rosettes
antiqued Venetian glass mirror
Venetian mirror framed in hand-etched glass with golden highlights. Venetian mirror trimmed with glass ribbons and rosettes
Venetian glass mirror
octagonal Venetian mirror with hand-etched glass. Venetian mirror trimmed with glass ribbons and rosettes
Venetian glass mirror
antique Venetian mirror framed in hand-etched glass with antiqued gold highlights, trimmed with glass ribbons and rosettes
antiqued Venetian glass mirror

lady with antique mirror

Starting with 12th century no respectful lady left her house without a small mirror. Handheld mirrors and pears mirrors became a must have items for every woman. Ladies wore gold embellished mirrors on a chain around their neck or waist, inserted mirrors in to the fens. Mirrors were treated just like precious jewelry, and were incased in specially crafted exotic materials like turtle shell or elephant bone frames. Some of the mirror's frames were made from gold or silver with an elegant miniature engravings.

In the 15th century the Venetian Island of Murano become the center of glass making and was known as the "Isle of Glass". They officially created the "Council of Ten" with a special mission of vigorously protecting the secrets of there glass making techniques. Masters glassmakers were secretly transported to the island of Murano undercover as a firefighters. The "Council of Ten" generously supported glassmakers and at the same time kept them isolated from the rest of the world. The profits from the mirror making monopoly were too large to take any risks. European monarchs at whatever it cost tried to find out the Venetian glassmaking secrets. They accomplish this goal in 17th century, when Colbert (the minister of Ludwig XIV) bribed with gold three Murano masters and transported them in to France.

carved wood cheval mirror. This freestanding mirror mirror designed with scrolled leaf motif and has an antiqued medium brown finish with gold highlights. Mirror has beveled glass
Italian style cheval mirror
Louis XV style carved wood mirror with leaf design. Mirror has a hand painted medium brown finish and antiqued gold leaf accents
Louis XV style mirror
Horizontal Chippendale style mirror in hand crafted carved wood frame. Mirror has antiqued gold leaf finish
Chippendale style mirror
18th-century Neapolitan style carved wood horizontal mirror with leaf scrolls and floral motif. Mirror has an antiqued gold leaf finish
Neapolitan style mirror
Adam style carved wood over-mantel mirror with leaf, scroll and garland motif, convex mirror accent and antiqued gold leaf finish
Adam style mirror
18th century Italian style freestanding cheval mirror. Mirror designed with carved wood frame in hand painted antiqued brown finish and hand applied gold leaf highlights. Freestanding mirror has leaf and scroll motif
Italian style cheval mirror

mirrors - Hall of Mirrors, Amalienburg, Nymphenburg Palace Grounds, Munich
Hall of Mirrors, Amalienburg, Nymphenburg Palace Grounds, Munich

The French happened to be a good students, and very quickly they not only mastered Murano glass making techniques, but invented they're own. While mirror making techniques used by Venetian masters was based on a glassblowing, French masters started manufacturing mirrors using casting techniques based on pouring glass into the cast molds. The glass was poured directly from the dome into perfectly smooth surface of the cast mold, and then, as the glass was cooling, it was rolled with the special rollers achieving a perfect consistency and smoothness of material. Immediately after this invention, in Versailles the construction of the Mirrors Gallery began. The Mirrors Gallery was 220 feet (73 meters) long and embellished with 306 huge mirrors.

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles
Mirrors Gallery, Palace of Versailles

On the end of 16th century, following the high fusion style, French queen Maria De Medici decided to create for herself a Mirrored office. For this matter, 119 mirrors was purchased from Venice. Maybe because her purchase was so large, or for some other reason, Venetian masters created a special gift for the queen of France - a unique large mirror generously incrusted with precious stones. Till this day this mirror is preserved and kept in the Louvre in Paris.

palace with mirrors

Mirrors become a popular valuable collectibles among royals. English King Hendry VIII and the King of France Francis I were the most known mirrors collectors of there time. Trying to catch up with kings, nobles in France had to have an extravagant mirrors in any cost. There is a knowing facts that some of them had to sell one of they residents in order to purchase a single beautiful mirror. Mirrors were extremely costly. For example one mirror cost more than an Rafael's painting of the same size.

18th-century Tuscan style carved wood mirror with shell, leaf and floral carving, hand-painted medium brown finish and antiqued gold-leaf trim
Tuscan style mirror
carved wood mirror with shell motif, antiqued medium walnut finish, antiqued silver-leaf accents and nine pieces of antiqued glass mirror
Tuscan style mirror
17th century Venetian style hand carved wood wall mirror with leaf and floral design. Wall mirror has an antiqued gold leaf and silver leaf finish
Venetian style mirror
baroque style carved wood mirror with leaf and scrolls design. Mirror finished in antique gold leaf
Baroque style mirror
18th-century style carved wood mirror with leaf scrolls and floral design
18th-century style mirror
Louis XV style mirror with leaf design. Mirror has a carved wood framed hand painted medium brown finish and antiqued gold leaf trim
Louis XV style mirror

This ornate porcellan drawing room was designed by Giuseppe and Stefano Gricci and Luigi Restile. It was completed in 1757 within the Royal Palace at Portici
This ornate porcelain drawing room was designed by Giuseppe and Stefano Gricci and Luigi Restile. It was completed in 1757 within the Royal Palace at Portici

In 17th century Russia, mirrors were considered a sin. In 1666 the Orthodox Church in prohibited the possession of mirrors by its priests. From this time on a lot of superstitions surrounded mirrors. Those superstitions seems to us funny and naive, but back than people took it very seriously. Breaking a mirror, for example, was sign of bad lack for seven years. That is why when a mirror was broken the person who broke it should apologies to the mirror for clumsiness, and had to carefully and respectfully bury it. Solders took mirrors-talismans to reflect away death.

gorgeous mirrors
Hall of Mirrors, Amalienburg, Nymphenburg Palace Grounds, Munich

Mirrors have had a long and colorful journey throughout history. In our days there is no home without a mirror. Mirrors have become part of our everyday routine, often unappreciated. We always should remember "reflect" and respect the historical aspects of mirrors and appreciate more not only mirror's functionality, but incredible esthetical value of the mirrors

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French Regency style carved wood mirror
French Regency style mirror
18th-century Venetian style hand carved wood mirror with leaf and scroll design. Mirror finished in antique gold leaf
Venetian style mirror
18th century Italian style round carved wood mirror with sunburst design, antiqued goldleaf finish and beveled glass
Italian sunburst mirror
Neoclassic style round carved wood mirror with antiqued white finish, antiqued goldleaf accents and beveled glass
Neoclassic style mirror
18th century style carved wood mirror with antiqued goldleaf finish
18th century style mirror
18th century style carved wood mirror with antique silverleaf finish and antiqued glass
antiqued Regency style mirror
 
 
 
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