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Document Details :

Title: Reflecties over reflecties
Subtitle: De spiegel in het 19de-eeuwse kunstenaarsatelier
Author(s): WIJNSOUW, Jana
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Interieurgeschiedenis en Design
Volume: 39    Date: 2014-2016   
Pages: 37-51
DOI: 10.2143/GBI.39.0.3170115

Abstract :
During the nineteenth century the mirror was a widespread object that had acquired a fixed place in many interiors. This article focusses on the presence and importance of these reflections in interiors, and more specifically in the artist’s studio during the second half of the nineteenth century, with Belgium and Great-Britain as case studies. Instead of taking the interior or studio as a starting point, the visual arts serve as the primary source. For instance, paintings, contemporary photographs and pictures of studios with mirrors, but also those works of arts created in these studios, are considered as visual testimonies elucidating the position and role of the mirror. Consequently, we can examine the function of the mirror and its interrelation with the studio, art practice and the visual oeuvre of artists within a broader nineteenth-century context. The presence of the mirror in artists’ daily lives cannot be underestimated. As it turns out, the mirror had attained an important place in the artist’s studio, entwining reflection and art. For instance, many Belgian and British artists, such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), James Ensor (1860-1949), Theo Van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) and Sir William Orpen (1878-1931), owned several notable mirrors in their houses or studios. Remarkably enough, these reflections were also present in the works of art by these artists, who made the mirror one of their most beloved instruments to manipulate light and perspective. The article considers te relation between the mirror, art practice and production, as well as the direct implications for the studio as a space. Finally it should be noted that the presence of the mirror originates in a broader socio-cultural context specific for this nineteenth-century timeframe. Hence, nineteenth-century studios were seldom coincidentally reflected in the surface of a mirror.

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