Mirrors, the luxury of the past.
Mirrors are essential to almost every urban household, it is a beautiful piece of accessory that is used throughout the world! But do you know when glass mirrors first came about it was considered a luxury that only the rich could afford at the time? And the introduction of the Venetians mirror made Venice the number one mirror manufacturer that no one could compete with for a while? Let us take a look at these luxury goods and how it has contributed to many of the royal estates in Europe.
The rise of Venice
Glass mirrors were already a thing in most parts of Europe though still something only the rich could afford. Especially mirrors with a bigger surface area as the process is made from small pieces of cut blown glass.
It was the pride and joy of the Venetian guildsman in the 15th century when they perfected the glass mirror with its unique ornate frames and meticulous process to create that everlasting sparkle. The Venetians mirrors were so beautiful and rare, it became the turning point of what a mirror is expected to be.
The council of 10
The secrets in creating these Venetians mirrors were so sought after, that the artisans on the island of Murano (the birthplace of Venetians mirrors) created a group called the “Council of 10” to closely safeguard its secrets and oversee the artisans well being to prevent its coveted secrets.
Paying the artist generous wages and accommodations, it is a bittersweet exchange for a lifetime of isolation on the island to make sure they won't break their solemn vow of confidentiality.
The popularity of these mirrors became is overwhelming, it became a hobby for the rich and high social classes in Europe to collect these masterpieces. As each piece is meticulously crafted, a Venetian mirror can cost as much as a naval ship!
These mirrors and Venice lace made them one of the leading exporters in Europe which lasted well over a century.
The secret is out
After close to 150 years of secrecy, in the 17th century, a minister manage to bribe a few Maruno masters to come over to France. Pretty quickly, the French honed the Venetians glassblowing technique and begin exploring and incorporating new ways to produce these mirrors such as using casting techniques. Immediately once this manufacturing process was developed, construction on the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versaille was commenced and it became one of the most iconic parts of the palace.
(Check out our previous blog post!)
This made France a direct competitor to Venice in the mirror manufacturing area. And with having their own line of mirror production, France does not have to pay 100,000 crowns (that is a lot!) yearly to Italy for mirror imports.
The Venetian mirror legacy
We guess one thing you can surely take from this little trip to the past is how the Venetians mirror brought about a new perspective for how we view thing. It is not only a functional piece of furniture but an artwork by itself. From palace to home, mirrors now play a huge role in bringing the illusion of space and light into the room while being glamorous and adorn as a statement piece.
A great journey from being a humble piece of vanity, to a show-stopping centerpiece. Mirrors are often underappreciated in today's society but let us all now “reflect” (Get it :) ?) on its history and respect its past supremacy as one of the most sought-after luxury goods.
Time to look at some beautifully designed mirrors with a fresher perspective!
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