At West Mirrors, we get asked a lot about our French-style mirrors. Usually, those questions range from “How do you make them so pretty?” to “Just how am I supposed to fit that through my doorway?”. For those, we have answers and are happy to chat over the phone about it using our helpline.
However, if there is one question that stands out, it’s the following: “What exactly is a French Mirror?”. It’s a pretty good question, so good in fact that the more we thought about it, the more we realized that a blog on the topic had to be created to give as clear a picture as possible.
So, if you’ve ever looked at one of our gorgeous French beauties and wondered just how this style of mirror came to be, then look no further! We’re about to give you a brief history lesson in this week’s blog!
Baroque The House
Generally speaking, when we refer to French Style mirrors, we actually mean “Baroque” style mirrors. The Baroque movement in art and design came about in the early 17th century and lasted through the middle of the 18th century.
The Baroque movement was all about maximalism and making the wildest design possible using the materials of the time. This wasn’t simply limited to interior design either and encapsulated art, architecture, and music.
It’s often cited that the reason for the emergence of the Baroque movement was the increasingly ostentatious lifestyles of royalty and aristocracy of the many European nations of the time. With each house, lord and lady competing with each other to see who could have the most luxurious or indulgent addition to their home.
Counter the Counter Culture
In many ways, the expansion of the Baroque movement can be attributed to the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican grew uncomfortable with the sudden rise of the Protestant movement and its emphasis on austerity and simplicity. As a result, the Baroque style was used to culturally counter the spread of Protestantism, which the highly influential Catholic church was deeply suspicious of.
Many catholic churches and cathedrals adopted this style, with the Baroque style of design still being highly popular in Spain and Italy.
But, Why French?
It seems kind of ironic that a “French” style of design is the result of Italian and Spanish religious ideals. However, the reason French-style mirrors got their name, strangely, doesn’t come from that.
In actuality, French-style mirrors acquired their name as a result of the infamy of France’s last monarch - Louis the 16th, and his wife, Marie Antoinette. As carefree rulers constantly shielded from the rising unrest of the people, Louis and Marie were left to indulge their interests as much as possible, leading to some of the most extravagant parties and items of the era.
While things ultimately didn’t end well for France’s final fateful monarchs, their legacy lives on somewhat in our mirrors, which embody the glamour and excess of their lives.
If you would like some more help choosing the perfect mirror for your home, don't be afraid to give our team at West Mirrors a call. Our friendly group of experts would be more than happy to provide some advice and recommendations!