Small carved wooden wall mirror, lacquered and partially gilded with Chinoiserie motif
Venezia, 1760 circa
It measures 40.15 x 27.55 x 3.14 in (102 x 70 x 9 cm)
State of conservation: There are a few minute additions to lacquer and scattered thinning of the “sandracca”.
In Rococo Venice, the decorated mirror became not only an accessory used for the toilette, but rather became a piece of furniture in itself. During this period, Venice emerged as one of the absolute protagonists of decoration, laying the foundations for a style that would influence European tastes.
During the eighteenth century the traditional creation of carved works had such strong roots that inside the “marangoni (or carpenters’) guild”, a particular branch of master carvers was born. These artisans were the “marangoni da soaza” who were specialized in the creation of wooden frames.
When producing mirrors, in addition to the characteristic carvings, the Venetian masters also used to adopt a particular lacquer ornamentation technique. In this style the decoration was performed against a solid colored background which was spread over a thin layer of plaster; this was then glazed with a layer of transparent varnish called “sandracca”.
Around the middle of the eighteenth century in Venice, master carvers began to produce a series of small carved and lacquered mirrors (approximately 70 cm in height). These were colored and came in different shapes and had various painted decorations; all of them, however, could be hung or placed on a table top (thanks to a special support hidden behind the mirror). Almost every piece was crowned at the top with a fastigium, which took the form of a smooth and convex surface upon which the vast array of subjects adorning the rest of the frame was depicted.
Our mirror is of this type despite the fact that its unusually greater dimensions permit it only to be hung on a wall.
The wood carved in rocaille is here lacquered in green and decorated in gold with subjects of Chinoiserie, according to one of the canons of ornamental design followed by the master “depentori”.
The mirror glass is original.
Cover Photo: Fabrizio Stipari
S. Levy, Lacche veneziane settecentesche, Milano, 1967;
E. Colle, Il mobile barocco in Italia, Milano 2000,
C. Santini, Mille mobili veneti. L’arredo domestico in Veneto dal sec. XV al sec. XIX, III, Modena 2002.