Raison d'etre

I am enthusiastic about home design and love French antique and vintage treasures.

This blog is about the things I find and use.

Friday, 11 March 2011


It isn’t vanity to use as many mirrors as I do - I rarely look in them but love them because it is so easy to create light and space with mirrors - and the the bigger the mirror the better!  
I bought this one many years ago from an English auction.  My son was a small boy at the time and he remembers kneeling in the back of the Volvo supporting it to stop it flexing on the short journey home.  I added the antique carved and painted wood winged cherub to the top when I was desperate to find a home for it in my English cottage.  In France it had been hung over a door but no chance of that here - there was no space large enough.  Anyway I like flamboyant!
A plant placed in front of a mirror is suddenly two plants and the illusion gives depth in reflection.

At the end of a corridor or hall a long mirror gives the illusion of lengthening the space and the reflection of objects fools the eye into seeing a bigger and grander room.
This is a French trumeau mirror with a picture of cherubs in the top and it certainly adds space to a rather cramped area at the top of the stairs.
A friend I remember collected sunburst mirrors a little like this one which is French antique gilded wood,  but instead of hanging them on walls she placed them en masse on the ceiling.  Weird maybe but the effect at night with lamps reflecting in them was like a ceiling full of stars!

This carved and painted French mirror is not reflecting much of interest at the moment but I do enjoy the design of the crest and side columns.

Towards the end of the 17th century technology allowed for the creation of large mirror plates for the first time  It became de rigueur for the wealthy and powerful to use as many mirrors as possible, reflecting as they did their social position.
Louis XlV understood the value of ‘les glaces;  when he had created the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.     
This has 17 mirror clad arches reflecting 17 windows overlooking the garden.  In the 17th century mirrors were among the most expensive items to possess and Venice had the monopoly in their manufacture. Venetian glass makers were brought to France to create the mirror plates and their expertise resulted in the manufacture of the largest available at the time.  Even so 21 mirrors were needed for each alcove resulting in the use of 357 overall.  Unlike me, though, Louis used these mirrors to reflect his glory, parading through the ‘galerie des glaces’ where his sumptuous clothes and diamonds could be reflected to an astonishing degree.
But you don’t have to be the Sun King to employ mirrors to great effect.  A large mirror plate in a garden or courtyard can have dramatic results and I have noticed recently that many garden designers are including them.

Nor do they have to be antique mirrors - although in my opinion the colour of older glass has a subtler, softer effect.  Even so a large mirror from a decorating ‘shed’ can be personalised with paint and ornament to make it individual.

This old painted French mirror is placed with a lamp in front.

And, finally, why shouldn't the smallest room in the house have a splendid mirror?  This, I believe, is Italian taken out to Alexandria at the turn of the 20th century.  It has a painted metal frame and the silvering of the glass is marked and blemished.  There is a marble topped console table which goes beneath but, at the moment, that is in another room.


birdfeathers said...

Love the idea of a 'garden mirror' got me thinking and planning where I could put one!!

The Cloth Shed said...

Great post....I can just see Louis XIV strutting his stuff through the galerie des glaces!
You have some beautiful mirrors and I love the cherub.... it looks great perched on the top.
Julie x

angebleu said...

Thanks Julie!

Hesta Nesta said...

I do love your mirrors, especially the one with the carved cherub. I have a large 19th century mirror in the lounge with all the silvering and blemishes showing through...I often wonder of all the people over the centuries who have looked in it. I was totally horrified when the antique dealer I bought it from offered to change the 'damaged' glass!!! Have a great week and thanks for stopping by.
Jo xx

angebleu said...

Hello Jo,

Glad you enjoyed the post. Yes - older mirror glass is so much softer than new. The 'Alexandrian' mirror in the loo is really marked although it is only just over 100 years old. I think it was probably cheaply produced. What I love about it - but can't be seen in the picture - is that there are the marks of a small hand as though it had been placed on the back before the mirroring was dry.


Linda said...

Brilliant Blog I shall enjoy following you Linda