Cassette mirror, Bologna Early 18th century


Cassette frame painted in vermilion tempera, imitating a breach, on which the frame framing the mercury mirror is applied, carved with scrolls and swirls of acanthus leaves, which in the four corners take the shape of a lily; it is entirely gilded with leaf, as is the border of the box, carved in a continuous ribbon along the entire perimeter.

Dimensions: 118 x 101 x 11 cm


Historical-stylistic analysis:

In the seventeenth century and throughout the following, Bologna was politically annexed to the Papal State, thus also undergoing its cultural and artistic influence. As is well known, Rome was the epicenter of Baroque taste, particularly appreciated for its bombast, richness and absolute heterogeneity of solutions; this style became the official language of the papal court, intent on reasserting its power and wealth after the Protestant schism which occurred not many years earlier.
Established in the Capitoline city, the Baroque spread rapidly throughout the peninsula, thanks to the projects and drawings of the most important artists; It is interesting to observe how this language was reinterpreted and adapted with the typical peculiarities of each territoriality.

Our frame has a characteristic Bolognese carving: clear references to the fleshy and dynamic spirals typical of the Roman Baroque, but reinterpreted in a less redundant key. The most interesting comparisons are possible with the contemporary cassette frames, including three examples
preserved at the Davia-Bargellini Museum in Bologna.

While diversifying in shape, the peculiarity is the wooden box, probably designed both to protect the detailed scrolls, and to create an effect of greater richness as a whole, with the addition of decorations or a engraved background, as in the case
of the frames of the Bolognese museum, or painted in tempera, as in ours.


– The Italian frame. From the Renaissance to the Neoclassical, edited by Franco Sabatelli, Electa, Milan, 1992;

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