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Work Mirror with Inner Compartment

Department of Decorative Arts: 17th century

Box mirror: portrait of Louis XIII

© 1998 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
17th century

Baratte Sophie

The mirror is decorated on the back with a portrait of the young Louis XIII on his marriage to Anne of Austria in 1615. The border depicts birds, flowers, and foliage in enamel on metal foil, with a crown above. The mirror was made at a time when Limoges was increasing its production of small items, sometimes linked, like the present work, to current events.

A mirror with an inner compartment

The mirror opens onto a compartment where a love token or lock of hair can be kept. It also has a ring, allowing it to be hung from a belt on a chain. Small enamels were also used to decorate pendants and watchcases. The subjects depicted might be mythological, religious, or, as here, profane.

The portrait

This portrait of the fifteen-year-old Louis XIII closely matches contemporary engravings of his marriage to the young Anne of Austria in November 1615. Enamels featuring portraits of his bride exist with similar borders. The wedding itself is depicted on an enamel in the British Museum in London, done after an engraving dating from the engagement in 1612, in which the two adolescents look much younger.

The enameler

The mirror is unsigned. Two enamelers are known to have produced portraits of the royal family in the first third of the seventeenth century. The first, who portrayed Henri IV and Marie de' Medici on salts now at the Musée d'Angers, signed his work IC and must be Jehan Court, called Vigier. The second, who signed his work IL, made the little portrait of Louis XIII at the age of around twenty-five now in the Wallace Collection in London. The style of the border allows this mirror to be attributed to the second of the two, who might be either the Jehan Limosin who signed the Esther and Ahasuerus plate, or the Joseph Limosin who signed a salt now in the Louvre, enamelers with both these forenames being documented for the first half of the seventeenth century.

Technical description

  • Attributed to Jean LIMOSIN

    Box mirror: portrait of Louis XIII

    C. 1615


  • Painted enamel on copper

    H. 11 cm; W. 6.70 cm

  • Gift of M. Cyril Humphris, 1986 , 1986

    OA 11063

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Henri IV
    Room 31
    Display case 2

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