G. Child, World Mirrors: 1650-1900, London, 1990, pp. 268-73
This arresting mirror unusually combines elements from two Italian regions: while the lacca povera is distinctly Venetian in flavour, the bold but essential manner of the carving, with its Régence reminiscences, is clearly Tuscan. The decoration of foliage and flower trails is well integrated with the carved giltwood, with an attention to detail that is rarely seen on such pieces.
The inspiration for lacca povera is to be found in the intense commercial exchanges that Venice entertained with the Orient throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, with lacquered goods being imported from China and Japan. A reaction to the more expensive European lacquer, the technique required thin paper vignettes to be glued on to the wood surface. In Venice, designs soon moved away from the Chinoiseries of exotic lacquers to adopt a more idiosyncratic language, with a variety of motifs such as landscapes, animals and figures often produced ad hoc by local printers.
Lacca povera normally presents itself in various degrees of quality. In the best cases, such as the present mirror, the paper was scrupulously painted with great skill and several layers of a light, amber-coloured varnish called sandracca were applied to the piece.
In this looking glass - meant for standing upon a console table or on the mantel shelf of a fireplace - the talent of the laccatore, together with the fluid character of the decoration, gives the paper the semblance of paint applied straight onto the wood surface.
Although no strictly comparable pieces are known, a more conventional example of a probably Venetian giltwood and lacca povera mirror was sold Christie’s London, 9 December 2010, lot 101 (£60,000).
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale