the Montespan Convex Mirror

In All, Mirrors by Mark Evans

 

 

The Montespan convex mirror frame is made of wood, lacquered black and gilded in bands of silver metal leaf.  Each layer is embellished with faceted silver beads or clear and silver gilded resin jewels.  These send out endless shards of light depending on how light hits the frame.  The “bowl” of the frame is silver leafed and studded with clear silver gilded resin jewels and faceted glass beads.  The mirror is an actual half dome creating a reflection of the silver bowl itself framing the true reflection.

This mirror is about 20 inches in diameter.    It is currently in my studio pending being shipped to one of my showrooms.

Jewelry for walls.

The Montesan mirror is inspired by the flamboyant and complicated mistress of Louis XIV, AthènaÎse de Montespan.

Madame de Montespan as Fortuna.  French School, 17th century.

Madame de Montespan with her children. A painting by Pierre Mignard circa 1678.

Athénaîse, the Marquise de Montespan was Louis XIV’s second mistress en titre supplanting Louise de la Valliere. Montespan used Louise to lure Louis to her bed. She betrayed her best friend at court.

Montesan was a blazingly beautiful woman with huge blue eyes, golden hair and a voluptuous figure. She was greedy, clever, sensual, demanding, temperamental and charming. She had a scathing wit that could flash from funny to damaging. She was expensive and glorious, like Varsailles itself. And she was married.

Montesan’s relationship with Louis was tempestuous and passionate. Together they had seven children. Louis eventually made them legitimate, much to the dismay of his wife, the queen, and the Catholic church.

Montespan matched Louis in her love of food. That and her many pregnancies made her fat in her thirties. It was then that Louis’ eye began to wonder. This lead to the “affair of the poisons”

The Affair of the Poisons was a scandal where members of the aristocracy were involved in a sub-culture of poisoning, aphrodisiacs and witchcraft. The scandal lead to a midwife who went by the name La Voison. La Voisin claimed that Montespan had bought aphrodisiacs and performed black masses with her in order to enhance the king’s love and desire.   Also to discourage potential rivals.

The investigation eventually lead to Montespan. Louis hushed up further investigation but Montespan was all but finished.

Montespan retired from court to live in a convent for the rest of her days. She freely gave money to charities, practiced mortification of the flesh and became very pious.

Note: When she died there was no funeral. Louis forbade their remaining children to wear mourning.

For more dirt go to my Bourbon Dynasty lenticular pieces at http://theartofmarkevans.com/the-bourbon-dynasty/

The Montespan convex mirror is silver to evoke the famous solid silver furniture that was created for Versailles in 1664.  Over 200 pieces were manufactured at the Gobelins factory under the direction of Charles Le Brun and Claude Ballen.  Remember, each piece from candlesticks to benches to immense basins and statues were solid silver.  The whole collection ran to over 20 tons!  One can imagine the beautiful Montespan wandering through the room of Versailles glittering with silver everywhere she looked.

Unfortunately these masterworks of silver were melted down in 1689 to pay for the horrendous costs of the War of the Grand Alliance.

Four solid silver pedestals( 1.87 meter high) at the Getty.  Not sure whether they survived being melted, but they are definitely close to the originals.

A computer generated recreation of what the silver furniture looked like placed before Louis XIV’s silver throne.