Tefaf’17: Old Masters

I’ve been to Tefaf art fair already – I thought, it was just a couple of years ago, but my own posting about this visit is of 2013 (!) Back then I was impressed by the sheer scale of the event, the number of great artworks I’ve seen, and specifically by the interesting ‘art mirrors’ I encountered there. I counted ten or so of those, I managed to describe them all in one posting.

This time it will be four (4).

I don’t why – perhaps this year was specifically mirror-plenteous, or I had developed better sensitivity – or perhaps the reason was that I went to this fair together with i-shmail, an art-lover himself who also spotted quite a lot of ‘mirrors in art’.

As the painting above alludes, this will be the posting about ‘old art mirrors.

The first work doesn’t have any mirror per se, but is clearly related to the subject of mirrors. Even if it would be simply a Vanity panel, it would be already ok, but this panel has the writing on it with the words Speculum meditateus (?), or perhaps meditantis. 

It was attributed to an Italian (Rome?) Master and officially called as Vanitas with Skull, Sheaf, and Hourglass (c.1630)

This is how it looked in the gallery booth; it is a fairly small panel.


Next work is also about Vanity –  Jacob Duck, Allegory of Vanity (c.1650). No sign of mirror, though.


Neither we see a mirror on this panel, by Jan Woutersz. StapTax Collector and His Wife

Some other painting on this topic did have mirrors, and I keep chasing for more.


The same story with this mirror-less Susanna and the Elders, by some Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavaliere d’Arpino (c.1620)



Here, on the painting about Ronaldo and Armida by Luca Giordano (c.1680) we do see – if not a mirror, then the shield with reflection:

This is the moment when Rinaldo (or Ronaldo, as he is called here), has been awakened from his enchantment by the two soldiers who showed him his true look using their shield.


This is the first real mirror – although I am not sure it was described correctly. The gallery described this rondel as Allegory of Vanity (?), by Lorenzo Pasinelli.

I would say that this is Prudence (I could even spot the second head/face on her back, of an elderly man). But more importantly, Pasinelli was known for this round panels with the virtues, not sibful figures.

In fact, the same gallery had another rondel of him, of the Allegory of Eternity:


This small sculpture attributed to Jacopo della Quercia, Italian master from Siena, was absolutely top discovery. This three (!) headed Prudence was apparently created around the 1410s, which makes her a contemporary of the earliest Prudences I was discovering in Italian art.

Few more pictures:


Immaculate Conception, by Spanish master Sebastián Martínez Domedel

I am not fully sure if these two objects are mirrors, they also look like reliquaries.

I later found a better copy of this work. I was trying to take my own pictures, but it was not always possible due to poor light in the some galleries.


I had a copy of this panel but never see the actual work. It is attributed to the follower of Hieronymus Bosch, and depicts the Temptation of Saint Anthony (c.1530). (I wrote about this subject in the Black Mirrors of St.Anthony)

The object that hangs in front of this lady with a goblet (?) may be a mirror (but may be something else, too).


There are no mirrors in this Still Life with Goblet, Fruits, and Lobster by Abraham van Beyeren

but the bulbous shapes of this goblet create numerous ‘mirrors’, and I usually gather these examples, too.


This is already much later work, mid 18th-century painting by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin. It is described as A Lawyers’ Chambers with Two Children Presented by a Maid, but I guess the story depicted here is more complex.

The mirror is one of those large fireplace mirrors, although it is pretty dull here.


I’ve seen this work last time, too: Charles-Antoine CoypelFolly embellishing Old Age with the adornments of Youth (1743)

Her is a detail with the mirror:


This painting looked more like a page from family archive than an art piece: The  Portrait of the Duchesse of Berry with her daughter Louise, future Duchess of Parma, in front of the bust of late Duc of Berry (1820) – by François-Joseph Kinson


We will see similar mirror in the works by Inres later on.


An example of historical reconstruction: Raphael and La Fornarina (1824), by Marie-Philippe Coupin de la Couperie

For historical reconstruction, it doesn’t seem to be very accurate, at least in terms of mirrors: no way the mistress of Raphael could have such a mirror; Da Vinci with iPhone kind of accuracy.


There is not mirror on this portrait by Ferdinand Georg Wadlmuller, of the actress Therese Krones (1824)

But is has a lovely fish-ball that creates interesting reflections.


This is likely not a mirror at all, but more a wishful thinking in action.

If there would be a mirror behind this group of people, it would be the sixth mirror by Ingres: The drawing of the Gatteaux Family is believed to be his.


The last work is the famous allegorical composition that is attributed to various masters, including Leonardo da Vinci (?):  Bear, Lion, Tiger and Unicorn Fighting with Dragon, Assisted by Man (Archimedes?) with a Mirror Beaming Sunlight (c.1510)

One forth is done.


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