Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

Jan van Eyck’s painting, The Arnolfini Wedding, (c.1434, Oil on oak, panel of 3 vertical boards, 82.2 [panel 84.5] cm × 60 [panel 62.5] cm [32.4 in × 23.6 in], National Gallery, London)  is long believed to be a portrait of Giovanni di Arrigo Arnolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami in a Flemish bedchamber. In the center of the picture is a mirror.

The mirror reflects two figures in the doorway, one of whom is believed to be the painter himself according to most scholarly reports. It is one of the many symbolic objects in this painting that has drawn much speculation.

Something as simple as this round mirror, even today, can lend intrigue to a room. People used to think they could see ghosts in mirrors and stories like Through the Looking Glass mystified mirrors as being potential portholes into other dimensions.

If you are looking for a round mirror to bring that sense of van Eyck to your home, check out this old circular decorative mirror available at the architectural warehouse Salvage One in Chicago for $550. (view details)

This mirror doesn’t appear to be convex, but the simpler gold leaf detail around it looks like scales of a snake and that (to me) is neat.

There is also this American giltwood convex mirror with a detailed mythical lion, sea horses and serpents from Crosskeys Antiques in Baltimore, MD.

No price is listed which would make me nervous, but it is a lovely piece, though I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the electric candles and the fact that one needs to plug this mirror in (see the wire?). The gold leaf and darker bronzed black color pair well together and I dig the faux riveting.

Another similar gold leaf convex mirror is available at Mystic Sisters Antiques in Killingworth, Connecticut, but again, no price is listed on the website.

As a bargain hunter (read: cheapskate), I would recommend checking out Nextag to do some price comparisons on convex mirrors as well as eBay and Amazon.

I think the mysticism convex mirrors hold is the distortion of a reality that can be held up to one’s face. The fact that carnival funhouses offer that distortion for entertainment is interesting as well…which might lead deeper philosophical questions about the people who have these mirrors in their home. If I had more wallspace I would be one of these people.

Perhaps it is healthy to have a small circle of distortion in one’s life to keep everything else in perspective.


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