Period and Antique style Giltwood Mirrors
Brights of Nettlebed have a particular affinity with gilded mirrors: Our patrimony stems from Biggs of Maidenhead, an antique dealership established in 1866, and from contributors to the publication Queen Anne & Georgian Looking Glasses, by F. Lewis Hinkley; a seminal text and source book which documents the “developing styles and the thoroughly distinctive designs” of looking glasses of the time. Many of the antique gilded mirrors which passed through Biggs' books are now in Brights' archive, and subsequently, many designs of Brights of Nettlebed’s designs for reproduction gilded mirrors are based thereon. We have also researched antique looking glasses and girandoles from important auctions by Sotheby's and Christies over the past 15 years: We have taken in to account the styles which have been most popular at auction, which has given us a strikingly relevant and popular collection of gilded mirrors.
Gilded Mirrors made to the highest standard
All our gilded mirrors are made to the highest standard in the very few areas of the South Pacific where artisan carvers can still be found. Due to unscrupulous development and factory owners in the late 1980s and 90s, many traditional craftsmen have been forced to move into bigger cities to work in factories mass producing cheap reproduction furniture. Through our consultant in Indonesia, we manage to ensure that we employ artisan families directly, where sometimes three generations of a family will work on a piece. The revenue generated from us commissioning one gilt mirror is enough to sustain a family for a month, and moreover it helps to keep the tradition of carving alive in the area; that tradition is one which is culturally and religiously ingrained. It is thought that the practice of Dutch Gilding may have originated in this area of the world at the start of the 17th Century when the country was colonised by the Dutch and the two cultures began appropriating the other’s traditions and practices.
The history and tradition of gilt mirrors
For centuries, gilt mirrors have played an important role in interior architecture and design. The elaborate gold gilded mirror frames are indicative of the immense value which used to be placed on mirrored glass. The basic frame was carved to the highest standards and gold was chosen as the material for gilding, as it does not tarnish like other metals.
Because mirrored glass was so expensive and the taxes thereon were so high, the glass would be resilvered and reshaped and the frames changed to ensure the mirror stayed in fashion without having to buy another expensive piece of mirrored plate.
There is much legend and superstition around mirrors. They were thought to be a reflection of the soul, and accordingly breaking one was thought to bring bad luck for seven years. It was believed that the soul regenerated in a seven year cycle. In some places, it has been customary to cover mirrors during wakes or periods of illness, because it was feared that the soul could become trapped in an uncovered mirror.