Saturday, March 15, 2014

17th C Padded Mirror Cases

For A Prized Looking Glafs
   To gaze upon one's own reflection in a looking glass was a privilege afforded by only the affluent upper glass and Nobility in the 17th c , and actually well into the 18th.  King Louis's (XIV) Great Hall of Mirrors he had installed in the Palace of Versailles drew visitors from around the world, no one believed it possible~ to be so vain to have a look at ones self from all angles...and that it was physically possible in the first place. Mirrors were a marvel in the 17th c, and so highly coveted that cases such as these were made to protect them.  The photos above and below show a case sold by Leslie Hindman~ you can see the auction here
   You can see they are quite flat, set up on marvelous bun feet, with a narrow padded compartment within that protects the mirror held within the lid
   What is amazing, is that all of the examples I have found, save for one, are this same design of King Charles & Catherine~ the designs are so nearly identical that one could speculate they were sold as kits
  The designs are beaded on a silk satin ground, just like many of the beaded baskets of the same era

  The case above is held at the Art Institute of Chicago, you can see it here

   And this one, at Knaresborough Castle, you can see it here~

   My good friends at the Maidstone Museum in Kent hold two wonderful examples~ this one above still a case, you can just see the fluted bun feet sticking out the bottom ...
 And this one, nearly identical, has been unpicked from its case and stitched together into a large panel .  If it weren't for the subject matter, I may have not realized it was once cover for a padded mirror case...which begs me to ask now, how many others have been unpicked and framed up? The large spacious area of the lid just begs for something large and involved to be worked upon it....and as we can see blow, not all  of these cases were done up with the King & Queen..... (my theory is that a mirror case would have been the most precious of gifts to myLadye for her wedding day, hence the betrothal /love couple design on the lid)
 Martha Edlin's padded mirror case held here  at the Victorian & Albert Museum shows both beadwork and counted work on a silk satin ground, along with her initials and date of 1673.

 I particularly like this beadwork panel from a past Skinner auction (here)   , and think it would look
 f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s- as the lid of a padded mirror case....and along that note,  why bead one at all?  I do think it curious why I have yet to find an example in raised stumpwork, as the form simply begs for it and is so well suited at a finished size of 14x17".
   I am very excited to announce that I have been working hard these last few months on perfecting my own reproduction of a padded mirror case, and that I will be offering them for sale next week as a fundraiser for the Museum for those would would like to bead or embroider their own. Based on the dimensions of the originals, each is hand made in pine, one at a time, by myself, for a wonderful tabletop piece that no 17th c Ladye would ever want her dressing table to be without....


Toni said...

This looks great, as I read your article, I kept thinking I want to make one. I would be interested in buying a frame, Toni

Jan said...

Can't wait to start stitching on it-this really makes my fingers itch!! Thank you for giving us the chance to indulge in such a wonderful piece.

Megan Hodges said...

I like that last one the best too - really lovely.
Thanks for telling us all about padded mirrors.

Megan Hodges said...

I love the Skinner piece as well. The use of the white gives so much light and life.
Thankyou for a great blog.

Megan Hodges said...

LOL! I've already left a comment saying pretty much the same thing. Wot memory?