Probably Sicily. First Quarter Of The Eighteenth Century.


Height: 41 1/2 (105.4 cm); Width: 34" (86.4 cm).

Of black lacquer with painted decoration and carved giltwood. Each with a later soft bevelled oval mirror plate within a cushion molded black lacquer frame with finely painted decoration depicting various classical figures and Chinese-style foliate and figural decoration, each frame with a band of carved giltwood foliate molding to the inner and outer edges.

Important Private Collection, São Paulo, the family originally of Sicilian descent.
Important Private Collection, Chicago

In the curious fusion of oriental subject matter with the classical, the decoration of these extraordinary mirrors is a most unusual example of early eclecticism. The exotic ornament is remarkable in displaying a full length beturbaned figure with his back turned squarely to the viewer.

The classical figures are painted with great bravura and represent the following subjects: On one, the right hand side of the frame bears the figure of Hercules slaying the Hydra, paired on the opposite side with a figure of Mars. Hercules seems close to the painting by Guido Reni in the early seventeenth century which was broadly disseminated by engravings and prints (figure 1), whereas the rendering of Mars is especially close to an engraving by Crispijn de Passe the Elder which is dated 1659 (figure 2). On the bottom most point of the mirror is Flora and on the opposite is a rendering of Cupid and Psyche.

On the other mirror, on either side of the frame is Pan chasing Syrinx, which is interestingly close to the painting by Peter Paul Rubens now in the British Royal Collection (figure 3). On the upper and lower points of the mirror we see Hercules again, but this time looking into a mirror, suggesting it is referring to the story of his emasculation by Omphale, who appears above him on the top edge of the frame, holding his club.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.