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The Use Of Mirrors In 16th Century Paintings

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This paper shows that Anamorphosis is that particular style of drawing in which the piece of art appears distorted until it is viewed by the observer at a particular angle or by means of a special lens. Sometimes whole scenes and landscapes were embedded in these picture puzzles (Chilvers 14, Bousquet 155). A classic example of such a work will be Parmigianino’s Self Portrait done in the year 1434. For this painting, he placed a convex mirror in front and painted exactly what he saw. To lend an added air of authenticity to the image, Parmigianino especially constructed a wooden sphere and cut it in half in exact accordance with the dimensions of the convex mirror. As a result, Parmigianino’s hand appears disproportionately, almost grotesquely large, as it is placed near the mirror.
Georges De La Tour’s (George De La Tour) The Repentant Magdalene brings yet another touch of novelty to the usage of mirrors. Here, Tour portrays Mary Magdalene, seated in front of a mirror, gazing absently at it, while her left hand is lightly placed on a skull and the candlelight casts a shadow on her face. The reflection of the mirror is used to point towards the inner reflections of Mary Magdalene. Here the mirror is used to symbolize introspection. Magdalene is shown as gazing at the mirror. it is her inner world, however, that she is gazing at.
These examples are only a few. There are many others of this kind where one can see the mirror not just embellishing a painting and adding to its visual and artistic value but also conveying a deeply symbolic and moral meaning.