THE VENETIAN MIRROR
The patterns on the mirrors, obtained by means of its grinding wheel engraving, fea- ture floral designs or, in the case of complex patterns, they feature mythological or bucolic figurative scenes. They always have a wooden backboard.
There are three types of Venetian mirror:
Mirrors with leaves and flowers. Here the engraved mirror is bordered by glassy elements (leaves, flowers, reeds, decorative elements). Such elements can be made of vitreous paste (opaque), transparent glass (coloured or neutral), or glass with gold leaf. All the decorative elements are fixed to the structure by means of special nails whose head is covered by a small vitreous boss. In the most recent models (starting from the end of the nineteenth century), it is possible that the fixing of these elements is carried out by making use of screws.
The presence of such decorative elements derives from the fact that mirrors manufacturers were in direct con- tact with glass manufacturers (sometime their productions were executed within the same furnace). Thanks to proximity, there has been a contamination of styles that led to the birth of a characteristic style.
Drilled mirrors. The decorative part of these mirrors (besides engraving) is relied to “drilled” elements made of small hand-bevelled mirror pieces which, once aligned, create very complex decorative patterns. In the past, for the most demanding customers, the drilled mirror was further decorated with enamel, tortoiseshell, nacre or semi-precious stones (agate, lapislazuli, malachite, etc.) inserts. Each piece of mirror is fixed through pitch gluing or through small bosses whose head is visible: in this case, mirrors are previously drilled.
Wood inlay mirrors. In this case, the engraved mirror is inserted within an inlayed and golden wooden frame. Inlay mirrors are more recent than leaves and flowers or drilled mirrors (they started spreading from the eight- eenth century) but, as wood inlay skills are shared by many European Countries (particularly France, Austria and Germany), they soon became the most common products on the market. To this purpose, it could happen that the cut mirror section made in Venice was sent abroad to be installed on wooden frames made on the spot.