Mirrors of the Couven Museum

After my long, long, long pause I obviously have too many mirrors-in-art to write about – the one I’ve soon at various exhibitions and in museums, the ones I read about, or simply bumped somewhere on the web. It was difficult to decided which one to start with, so I decided to start with the most recent ones, the mirrors I has seen in the Couven Museum in Aachen, where I visited just a couple of days ago.

A couple of warning – these are not exactly ‘the mirrors-in-art’. Most of them are ‘just mirrors’, beautiful, though, and also helpful to better understand the ones that are depicted in art works. However, the period they belong to – ~18th – beginning of 19th century – happens to be that which least liked by (and thus least known to) me, at least mirror-wise.  Anyway, I just show them as is, perhaps as a food for thought for some postings in the future.

A couple of warnings – these are not exactly ‘the mirrors-in-art. Most of them are ‘just mirrors’, beautiful, though, and also helpful to better understand the ones that are depicted in art works. However, the period they belong to – ~18th – beginning of 19th century – happens to be that which is least liked by (and thus least known to) me, at least mirror-wise. Anyway, I just show them as is, perhaps as a food for thought for some postings in the future.

This are not my pictures, I had a tele-lens with me and was not able to take any wide-angle pics, so I am using the images from the museum website:

The museum is basically an attempt to represent the interior decor of a typical house of the middle-class members of the 18th century (at least this is how it is presented – I would question the ‘middle’ part, it looks more like an upper part of this middle class).

I took quite a lot of pictures of ‘my mirrors’ as they populate this house quite densely – to only realise, later on, that their website presents quite of lot of images with the mirrors, too, and of relatively good quality (which is still not the case with the majority of the museums).

For example, this one one of the splendour mirrors, the one we found in the so called Hofzimmer:

There are, in fact, few mirrors here – one is the large one on the fireplace mantleshelf:

And there are a couple of side mirrors, embedded into the two sconces hanging on the sides:

Notice very interesting ‘stars’ cut in the middle of these mirrors. These mirrors would have been used not for look at them, but as reflectors, to amplify the light of the available light sources (candles in this case).

Few more mirrors, from various places of the house; as I said, I don’t know much about the styles of this era, for me all these mirrors are ‘rococo’. But I am corrected here: “the two mirrors below and perhaps others are more correctly called Empire, which is a style of architecture and decorative arts dating from the first French Empire period, about 1804-1814, although historically it lasted longer in decorative art and architecture” – R.)

Notice that all these mirrors are places between the windows – which makes sense from one point of view (that of looking at this mirror), but somehow is not very beneficial if one would want to use these mirrors as light reflectors). Those mirrors were particularly big in the so called Festsaal:

But we also saw something more interesting in this hall – and again, I can use here the pictures from the museum website. Both doors leading to this room have a beautiful design, that includes large mirrors with an overlaid wooden relief:

My own picture shows some of the details of this relief:

Here also is my picture from the so called Kleiner Salon:

Notice that it was also arranged to be a reflector, not a looking-glass. There is a also a split, the mirror surface consists of two parts. I don’t know whether it was an original design (unlikely) or a later, not very successful, effort at restoration of once broken glass.

Again, the picture from the museum website shows a larger context:

We saw such cuts fairly often; there are seen in on few mirror pictured above, but one below is, perhaps, the most striking example:

We see that they were unable to find a mirror with equally beautiful edging (I’ve learned from R. that this type of edge is called beveled) and just used plain mirror; a shame, really:

A few more beautiful mirrors:

Here you can see R., the person who actually invited me to come to Aachen this time (and lately kindly commented on this posting, improving its quality):

She and I discussed wither her many ‘mirror secrets’:

Here in fact it was she who discovered that these ‘panels’ behind the candles are actually mirrors, totally discolored by now – you can only spot the former mirror surface near the frame:

 

The first of this pair looks like it is plain glass (also broken, by the way):

Broken mirror was also detected in this strange two-part mirror:

I suggested that this was, perhaps, not a mirror in the first place, but rather a very decorative frame for small paintings, or relieves. It could have been re-appropriated for mirror only much later. You can see in the upper part that the mirror is very thin. They could not make those in the 18th century, and managed to produce such thin mirrors only much later (at the beginning of 20the century, perhaps):

Mirrors were everywhere: this one I found on the staircase, between the floors:

And this one, in a metal frame, was hanging in one of the rooms:

But that’s not all – we also found many more ‘mirror thingies’ here and there.

In a cupboard, with the mirrors both on its facade:

and also inside the cabinet:

Another cupboard, with a mirror panel on its central door:

You can see here that it’s really old mirror, with very characteristic traces of ‘mirror patina’:

  

Few even more exotic ‘mirror things’: a sewing set in a box with a mirrored lid:

and a candle-lamp, where we saw the same reflector as in the scones (even if it was not really a mirror, but a copper leaf):

We have also found another very interesting object(s) that use mirror – and those I would actually describe as ‘art’ – but I will have to make a separate posting to describe them. {ps: here is this posting}

PS: R. just kindly sent me few more pics with the mirrors, so I am adding them here, too:

The same scone with a mirror I’ve shown in the beginning:

A better view on the cupboard with a mirror on its front panel:

And this one I don’t even remember – the mirror here looks line a modern add-on:

PPS: In addition to the pictures, R. has also made the effort to edit this text, correcting my frequent mistake, and not very accurate naming of certain objects. Thanks!

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