Woman at the Mirror (The Spanish Shawl)

By Museo d'Arte Moderna dell'Alto Mantovano

Woman in the mirror (The Spanish shawl) (1924) by Archimede Bresciani da GazoldoMuseo d'Arte Moderna dell'Alto Mantovano

The work was presented for the first time in Brescia in 1925. The Spanish Shawl represents a woman wrapped in a mantón de Manila, a very large shawl. But the subject does not refer to flamenco, neither the movements of the bailaora, nor to the sensual vaulting that could have magnified the attractiveness of this colored shawl and its fringes. It is, therefore, not the movements of the body that lead us by the hand into the Dionysian dimension of dance.

Archimedes' woman stands motionless in front of the mirror, while the beauty of the garment refers to Canton, where these shawls were made, and to Manila, once a Spanish colony, from which they were sent to Seville

At homeland, they would have further enriched with other very refined embroideries, to the point of creating real works of art

This is the beauty of the mantle that Archimedes exalts and restores, even in the pose of the woman who, in the perfection of the dress, as a princess of the Spanish royal family might have done, takes on a dimension of classical sculptural immobility, that is capable of exhibiting the workmanship of the mantón, its floral motifs, its elegant fringes, the magnificence of elegance.

In the word of Benito Pérez Galdós (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1912) uses in Fortunata y Jacinta, wrapping yourselves in this shawl is like dressing in a pictorial masterpiece, in which the idea of ​​the Far East is charged with exotic veins and romantic

The sense of the work, therefore, is not the daily act of looking a mirror but that of admiring oneself in the amazement of the garment.

As in a snapshot, the painter wants to focus on a figure of a patrician woman who takes pleasure in the preciousness of a garment of rare grace.

As in the best female portraits of Bresciani, the woman in the mirror shows her rank gracefully,

in the context of the damasks on the walls, in the precious rococo mirror,

in the Venetian crystal vase that Vittorio Zecchin, in the 1920s, had Venini make inspired by a vase that appeared in a painting by Paolo Caliari, known as Veronese.

And then in the carpet ...

We are in the 1920s, so the painter has acquired a full expressive maturity, moving in the wake of a painting that rejects any avant-garde temptation. He excels, as best pupil of Cesare Tallone, in the portrait, to the point of being disputed by the bourgeoisie of Milan, Mantuan and Brescia. His technical virtuosity gives him the opportunity to express now, with ease, an imaginative creativity and an aesthetic sensitivity that make him great.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
International Museum Day 2020
From iconic art to cutting-edge fashion, get a better appreciation and understanding of culture from around the world
View theme
Google apps