Parcel Gilt Mirror in the manner of Osvaldo Borsani | Rose Uniacke

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Parcel Gilt Mirror in the manner of Osvaldo Borsani


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About this piece

Of undulating, rectangular form, the painted frame with gilded shell-like mouldings and original mirror plate

Italian, circa 1955

References: Lucio Fontana and Osvaldo Borsani, From a Private Milanese Residence, Wanda Rotelli, Sotheby's

Born in 1911 to a furniture builder at the famed Atelier di Varedo, Borsani developed his precocious sense of design during his stud- ies in fine art and architecture in the 1930s. A tendency in his de- signs for smooth, flowing linear patterns, frequently went hand in hand with the designer's eagerness to create furniture which was both beautiful and practical: built to accommodate and facilitate the needs of its users, and to fit naturally and effortlessly into their lives. A key example of this is Borsani's famous P40 chair. Made up of mobile elements, the P40 chair uses a mechanism enabling the occupant to assume a multitude of different positions of comfort.

This predilection for curvilinear forms is echoed in a purely decorative sense in this particular piece: the ease being solely on the viewer's eye. Of broadly rectangular shape, the frame gently tapers towards the middle, its undulating top edge curving at each corner and rising softly at the centre. The original mirror-glass is bordered by a fine trim of gold leaf at the inner edge of the frame, in a graceful, lace-like pattern. The main body of the frame is given further texture by the striated mouldings moving outwards from the glass, ending in leaf-like, gilt segments delicately furling in- wards, their rippling effect echoing the gentle curve of the overall shape of the mirror.

The almost Baroque-like gilded detail to the frame might seem surprising in the context of the largely unadorned 1950s aesthetic. However, this more ornate style of decoration did play a part in mid-century design. The artist Lucio Fontana, with whom Borsani closely collaborated, was particularly fascinated by the spatial explorations made possible with the Baroque style. This fascina- tion can be clearly seen in Fontana's wall decoration, Arlecchini, designed in 1954 for a private apartment in Milan entrusted to the Borsani Design Studio. Clear echoes can be seen in the swirl- ing, playful festoon motifs in this work and the below mirror and dressing table designed by Borsani in 1946, also included in the apartment.

The parcel gilt mirror we present today, whose graceful form also has an undeniable liveliness to it, shows Borsani enjoying the pure beauty of organic, sinuous line and pattern, which was so key to his concept and oeuvre as whole.


H 123cm x W 89cm x D 6cm
H 48½" x W 35¼" x D 2½"

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