stephenburkedesigns insta #14

Object of Desire – Sunburst ‘Organic Design’ Mirror


I’ve always loved ‘Sunburst Mirrors’ but never as much as this ‘object of desire’ I came across recently in Architectural Digest, Espana. What particularly appeals to me is the very different and organic design of this sunburst. It is stated as being a ‘coral’ design, but I beg to differ, to me it looks like a bramble or thorny Rose branch design. The original source given for the mirror was an Antique store in Berlin. Hours of extensive on-line searching have proved fruitless in finding this design or anything even remotely similar to this mirror. It truly appears to be unique.

It did lead me into wondering where the Sunburst Mirror design originated. Here is what my research uncovered:

‘The sunburst as a decorative motif may have its roots in the halos surrounding figures in medieval religious art.

There is a rare depiction of a convex mirror with a sunburst motif in the background of the Arnolfini portrait by 15th-century painter Jan van Eyck

14b Arnolfini portrait - Jan van Eyck

During the 17th century, the Catholic church began using elaborate monstrances — decorative stands used to display the communion wafer — adorned with gilded rays. Churches in Italy (most famously St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome) often had gilded sunbursts above the altar.

The Sun King, Louis XIV chose the head of Apollo surrounded by rays of light as his personal emblem. During his reign many pieces of furniture and architectural features were decorated with the sunburst motif.

According to design historian John Pile in his classic reference, A History of Interior Design, the early 19th century saw a resurgence of the Sunburst Mirror.’

Current design trends testify that the passion for these mirrors continues.


Ref: Architectural Digest, Espana, Mayo 2016, Google Images and
NB: stephenburkedesigns ‘insta’ posts are images of furniture, lighting or design elements that have caught my eye and have appealed to me personally. They are initially posted on stephenburkedesigns Instagram account and then reposted here.


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