11555 A SPECTACULAR LARGE SUNBURST CIRCULAR MIRROR IN TWO COLORS OF GILDING Continental. Early Twentieth Century. Measurements: Height: 82″ (208.2 cm); Width: 71″ (180.3 cm).
Of giltwood. The circular, possibly later mirror plate is contained within a molded frame from which issues carved and fretted sun rays of alternating design.
The present mirror is of exceptional large scale and would have been a special commission for a principle position within a decorative scheme.
Unlike other mirrors (and clocks) employing the sunburst subject for their frames, this example has a pleasing contrast of alternating forms of rays; shorter, wavy flat fretted and dramatic, shard-like rays. The contrast is further enhanced by the use of two types of gilding. Given the clean, sparse geometry of the composition, it seems likely to have been made some time during the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 30s.
The sun has been used in art as a symbol through the centuries, often associated with Genesis. It was also connected with Sol Invictus (the Invincible or Unconquerable Sun), a god of the later Roman Empire and patron of soldiers. However, perhaps the most striking solar images are those illustrated in seventeenth century works on the subject of alchemy. An image from R. Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi, Vol. I (1617) depicts a solar image with similar alternating rays (figure 1).