Antoine Monnoyer, 1710-20
The Victoria & Albert Museum
For a painted mirror such as this to survive for centuries is nothing short of miraculous. The mirror glass is fragile and the surface paint easily chipped or stripped away during cleaning. Furthermore, such mirrors were often built into an interior and many examples were destroyed when the room was altered or redecorated.
This mirror is the work of the French artist Antoine Monnoyer who was born in 1672--the son of the artist Jean Baptiste Monnoyer, who worked for Louis XIV. Coming to England in 1683, the Monnoyers, both father and son, painted flowers from all seasons of the year, achieving a decorative effect that would have been impossible with fresh-cut flowers. According to the V&A, “Jean Baptiste did a mirror closet at Kensington Palace for Mary II. Apparently she was so fascinated by his skill that she watched him while he worked.”
This mirror was painted in England and includes the coat of arms of the Duncombe Family, thought it is speculated that this was probably added later. This example may have been an overmantel in a room which was thickly hung with tapestries.
Queen Mary, consort of King George V, was a fan of this style of mirror and, as such, hoped to restore the similarly-painted mirror closets at Kensington Palace. She ordered such fashionable painted glass to be installed, but it does not survive.