the mirrors of the witches
by Stefano Coluccio
Dorsoduro 1173
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A usual feature adorning the walls of Northern European homes in the 16C, the convex mirror is documented in various works of art, most famously The Arnolfini Wedding, by Yan Van Eyck, National Gallery, London.

Since ancient times the convex mirror, with its magical connotations, was considered a charm in the guise of an eye, to ward off evil from the home and it's inhabitants. In France it is commonly known as "oeil de sorcière", the wizard’s eye.

It also became known as the "Bankers'eye" due to the fact that it reflected blind spots more effectively than a conventional mirror and allowed Bankers, Moneylenders, Goldsmiths etc... to keep a watch on otherwise unmarked areas. An example of this is the famous work by the Flemish master Quentin Metsys (1466-1530) The Moneylender and his Wife, 1514 Louvre, Paris.

The mirror’s characteristic to distort images appealed to several artists who put into practise their own ability to represent a reflection of a virtual image. Parmigianino was so fascinated by the mirror that, as proof of his mastery, he painted a self portrait reflected in one of these mirrors. The work can be viewed at the Kunsthistorishes Museum, Vienna