Exhibit of the month

The table dressing mirror


The table dressing mirror

The Urechie manufactory(?), the late 18th century;
materials: mirror glass, wood, metal; techniques: casting, molding, engraving; height - 54.0 cm; width - 26.5 cm

The museum collections have been extended with an original addition, the table dressing mirror, its manufacture time and location were attributed to the late 18th century and the town of Urechie, currently in Liuban area, where the Princely Radziwill family founded their mirror manufactory in 1737.

In those years, mirrors were widely used in residential and public interiors and had two functions: 
  • For one thing, the users could see their own reflections as they dressed in the mornings and in the evenings.
  • The second thing was that the mirrors reflected light thus increasing the illumination of rooms, especially palace halls; that function appeared in the second half of the 18th century.
Saxon masters of their craft from the Dresden manufactory Senfftenberg organized glass production along the lines of the Royal manufactory at the only mirror manufactory in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the town of Urechie. The technical and artistic production standards there were so high that some products were easily mistaken for French and English ones.

Looking at the technical, technological and artistic features of the mirror, one can see the process of mirror production within the current limits of Belarus. First, they brewed liquid glass melt. The glass melt main components including potash, sand, lime; manganese dioxide, antimony, tartaric acid, saltpeter, white arsenic, minia, lead white, soda, lead, azurite, etc. were added to the mass in limited proportions, the production took place in a large workshop. A long cylinder was blown from the molten glass, and an iron rod was driven into the cylinder's bottom in order to widen the opening. The opposite end of the cylinder was cut off from the blow tube with a wet knife. The blown sheet was cut, stretched lengthwise on a marble table and tempered.

After that, grinding them against each other while sifting fine river sand between them smoothed the sheets out, and subsequently they were polished with a flat stone wrapped in a soft felt pillow. This work was done in grinding and polishing workshops. The polished sheets were cast with a hot tin and silver alloy.

The Urechie manufactory went out of business in 1846. The manufactory's century-long operation within the changing borders of successive states on the current territory of Belarus allows us to consider the Urechie glass as a national phenomenon, which developed as part of the Belarusian national artistic culture. 

The Urechie mirror frames were decorated with mirrored glass, which distinguished them among other mirrors. The Urechie mirror frame was decorated with engraved flower rosettes and floral ornaments. The trapezoidal top, the so-called crown, of the mirror that is now part of our collection, is decorated with the image of a bird sitting on a flowering bush. The engraved decorations were created in the engraving workshop. The theme of the engraved pattern on the mirror indicates that the artistic direction of the Urechie glassware was influenced by the local artistic culture. The archival inventory records mention the outstanding masters of the past, the grinders Semion Petrovich, Georgy Dubitsky, Matvey Shimon, Ieronim Belkevich; draughtsmen-engravers Nikolai Dubitsky, Pavlik Malevich, Yan Dubitsky. Rosenbaum, a Slutsk town resident, and later Dzerdzievsky, a local resident, managed the Urechie glass manufactory.