This posting continues my ‘mirror stories from Zaragoza’, but in reality it looks more like my typical ‘museum postings’ – like the ones I wrote after visiting the Thyssen Museum in Madrid or the Chicago Art Institute. They are not much more than a collection of the paintings from these museums where I managed to find mirrors (or ‘mirrors’, or anything else remotely related to the topic of the blog).
This time it will be from the Museum of Zaragoza, ¡Por supuesto!
As before, I don’t write here about all the works I’ve seen there (and which I managed to take the picture of) – in case of your interest you can have a look at much more abundant postings about its collections – Museum of Zaragoza: Medieval Art, Roman Art, and Other Art (the last one also includes Goya).
Here are only the works related to mirrors – plus perhaps just a few to convey the general context:
It is allowed to take picture in the museum AND there were quite a lot of people there, which is usually a good combination, since I like to take the pictures not only paintings but how people look at them.
I didn’t find any mirrors in the large collection of medieval works, except, perhaps, one shield that bore some similarities with the mirror/shields I once wrote about (see Of the Shields, and the Dragons & Demons.)
Martín de Soria – Saint Michael defeating the dragon (c.1449)
Here is a close-up of this shield
I didn’t find any mirrors in the usual suspects, neither in the early Annunciation (by Jaime Serra, circa c.1380)
nor in the created much later Birth of Saint John the Baptist (by Jerónimo Cosida, circa c. 1580)
To some surprise, I also didn’t any mirrors in the Roman section; here I would expect to see at least some bronze mirrors, and ideally also their depictions in the frescos. Alas, the only remotely optical thing there was this weird op-art mosaic:
The medallion below is not really Roman, it’s made already in the 17th century, to decorate a church – which itself makes it very interesting, as it looks like a Face of the Sun, the symbol that I still do my research about (see Speculum Rex, Aeternum).
This object, on the contrary, was made a way earlier than Romans came here, this stella dates back to 900 BCE, was made by the local tribesmen and found on one of their graves; I would love to assume that what we see is the Sun (and may be even with the Face on it):
The really first mirror was on one of the etchings by Francisco Goya (who happened to be born not far from this city, and spent his childhood here, and so the place is filled with the works of this Spanish master).
This drawing (1799) is usually known under the name Hasta la muerte, Until the very Death. I know about this work before, but never see such a dark print. More common is a version like the one below:
The versions that are presented in the museum are lifetime originals, made with the use of much more ink than many later copies. That, also natural darkening of ink with time made them really macabre. Plus they are printed on very textured paper, which made them looking like real painting.
It’s all nice but as a result the mirror became barely visible 😦 Goya had few other ‘mirror works’ but not so many, and he is ‘not my painter’, so I don’t know if I ever will write a separate posting about him
There were also two new mirrors.
One was found in the ‘Self-portrait in a mirror with a model’, by some Rafael Hidalgo de Caviedes (I found nothing about him on the web, except that he had a son, Hipólito Hidalgo de Caviedes, who also became a painter).
Новых зеркал попалось два. Одно – на
сложно-закрученном довольно типичном автопортрете с моделью и зеркалом, некто Rafael Hidalgo de Caviedes (ничего про него не знаю), написанном примерно в 1896 г.
The painting is in really bad condition, you can see yourself that the canvas is heavily skewed, and the surface is already decolorized; too sad 😦
But the use of the mirror is not exactly original; the composition of this kind was used for centuries, and in the Spanish context should have been strongly influenced by the Meninas, of course
The last mirror I found on the painting by Antonio Muñoz Degrain active in the late 19th century in Valencia. It is called Exam on the Doctrina Christina (1876)
What we see is apparently a scene of an exam of some sort, on the ‘Christian manners’, the procedure that is is completely unknown to me (and thus very interesting, anthropology-wise.)
The role of the lavishly decorated mirror is also unclear – there is chance that it is there simply because it was there, in the real exam hall; but it may also bear various symbolic meanings, too.
THE END (of this story of Zaragoza Mirrors)
PS: Or so I thought – at the end I wrote one more ‘mirror story’ from this city.