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Page history last edited by Lucy Skoulding 8 years, 3 months ago




 “Man has been interested in his own image since prehistoric times, using all sorts of expedients – from dark and shiny stones to pools of water” 

-        Melchoir-Bonnet, 9





Figure 1: Noon by Mercier, 1766-1779 (circa). The image shows a woman sitting at her dressing table fingering a string of pearls and adjusting a flower in her hair. She has a fan, comb, ointment and a mirror on the table before her, and two oval mirrors are on the wall behind her. The painting is part of a set including Morning, Afternoon and Evening as well. 


Defining 'mirror' 


In the Oxford English Dictionary, there are nine different definitions of 'mirror', with variations within each definition, thus showing how the word has been used widely and in a variety of situations. Moreover, in current times, it is used as both a noun and a verb, and the term 'mirrored' can even be used as a adjective. In the modern day, there are also many terms which include mirror, such as mirror-bearer, mirror-reading and mirror-stone. 'Mirror' currently belongs to Frequency Band 6. This band incorporates words which occur between 10 and 100 times per million words in typical modern English usage. These are usually specific objects, entities, processes and ideas, for example dog, machine, career, explosion and headache. During research into mirrors in the 18th century, it has been interesting to compare the popularity of the word then and now, how it changed over the 100 year period, and how the 18th century has influenced our use of 'mirror' today. 


For the purpose of this page, I have only included relevant definitions of mirror, and definitions which were used in the 18th century:


mirror, n.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines mirror as “an object having a smooth, flat (or sometimes slightly curved) surface and intended to reflect a clear image, made of polished metal in ancient and medieval times, but later usually of glass with a reflective coating on one side; a looking-glass.” As J. Fordyce said in Sermons to Young Women: "Next morning, the mirror is consulted again" (II. viii. 43, 1766)The more scientific definition given in the OED suggests it is “a polished or coated surface which is curved so as to reflect light in various ways; a lens or burning glass”. A. Tucker in 1774, for example, wrote that  “a convex mirrour strengthens the colours, and takes off the coarseness of objects by contracting them” (Light of Nature Pursued, III. IV. 473).


In a completely separate way, the OED also defines mirror as "a model or example" and  “a person or thing embodying a feature or characteristic deserving imitation; a pattern; an exemplar” and "a model of excellence; a paragon". This is a more metaphorical use of the word mirror, although is still a definitive definition today and in the 18th century. It refers to the idea that one can mirror another's behaviour, or mimic something else, as if they were reflecting it as a mirror produces reflection. In these definitions, only positive mimicking is exemplified, although arguably one could mirror a negative trait or behaviour as well. However, in the 1700s, this use of the word mirror was very much aligned with learning good behaviour and traits, as William Cowper shows in describing his servant  “who is the very Mirrour of Fidelity and Affection for his Master” (The letters and prose writings). 'Mirror' was often used symbolically in the titled of conduct books and advice manuals, which will be discussed in greater detail on this page. 


Figure 2: The term ‘looking glass’ was often used metaphorically as titles for instruction books on how to behave and conduct ones’ life. This is conveyed in the above example, Virtue in a Village: or, A Looking Glass for children in a humble life


Johnson defined mirror more simply as “a looking glass; a pattern”. ‘Mirror’ and ‘looking glass’ often seemed to be used interchangeably in the eighteenth century, with the latter definition being “a reflecting mirror”. At times, even just the word glass was used to denote mirrors or mirrored objects. One of Johnson’s seven definitions of the word is “A looking-glass; a mirrour”. It must be noted that most uses of mirror in the eighteenth century take the spelling of ‘mirrour’. It is thought that the term ‘looking glass’ came into use when rock crystal wall-hung mirrors began being made to accompany smaller hand-held ones. 


The most interesting definition of mirrors which appeared in the 18th century, according to the OED, is related to magic and illusion. It is "a glass or crystal used in magic", and the idea of the 'magic mirror' was very much in use. One example of this comes from Elizabeth Carter's poem Ode to Melancholy, a verse of which is below. 


31  Ye faithless Idols of our Sense, 
32  Here own how vain your fond Pretence, 

33     Ye empty Names of Joy! 
34  Your transient Forms like Shadows pass, 
35  Frail Offspring of the magic Glass, 
36     Before the mental Eye. 


Similarly, S Rogers wrote “Memory – What softened views thy magic glass reveals” in his 1792 The Pleasures of Memory.



Overview: mirrors in the 18th century 


Mirrors are very common objects in today's society, and are used by people all over the world. Their use is not just limited to style and beauty, also being utilised in art, archaeology, health and safety, science, technology and literature. In the 18th century, mirrors were beginning to gain the status they hold today. It is true that glass and decorative mirrors remained too expensive for most people, usually only being found in an aristocratic lady's toilette, or in grand stately homes or art displays, such as 'La Grande Galerie' (The Hall of Mirrors) in Chateau de Versailles. However, new methods of production meant that the majority of households and individuals owned some kind of mirror, even if it was a cheap hand looking glass. As a result, successful designers became interested in working with mirrors, including Thomas Chippendale, George Hepplewhite and Thomas Sheraton. 


This new accessibility to mirrors changed the way people viewed themselves. For the first time, people did not have to rely on maids and others around them to dictate how they looked: one could judge their appearance for themselves. This resulted in a backlash against the mirror, with concerns arising at the vanity and self-indulgence it could provoke in people. Religion in particular linked gazing at oneself in the mirror with sin, since it could cause jealousy if you thought yourself worse than others. Nonetheless, mirrors also became very useful objects in the 18th century. Mirrors were vital to scientific developments, including Herschel's telescope, and many papers and books on the science behind reflection and optics were in circulation. Moreover, there was a fascinating link between magic and mirrors in the 1700s (continue...). Literature could not fail to respond to the rise of the mirror in the 18th century. Authors and novels responded to mirrors in a variety of ways, criticising them, venerating them, using them symbolically, figuratively and literally. Metaphors surrounding the mirror are plentiful, and 18th century writers did not ignore these, therefore setting precedence for mirrors in literature for centuries to come. 




The first mirrors were likely to have been water collected in a vessel. 

6000 BC: Pieces of polished stone such as naturally occurring volcanic glass obsidian found in Anatolia (modern Turkey).

4000 BC: Mesopotamians made mirrors from polished copper. Egyptians crafted these from around 3000 BC.

2000 BC onwards: Polished stone mirrors from Central and South America. Chinese manufactured bronze mirrors. Mirrors produced from copper and tin speculum may have also existed, though they would have been rare and only owned by the wealthy. 

1 AD: Metal-coated glass mirrors produced in Sidon (modern Lebanon). The Romans discovered the technique of making mirrors by coating blown glass with molten lead. In Greco-Roman culture and throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, mirrors were just slightly convex disks of metal (bronze, tin or silver) that reflected light off their surface. 

Early Renaissance: Superior method of coating glass with a tin-mercury amalgam was invented. 

1500s: Venice became centre of mirror-making, and its mirrors were famous for their high quality. 

17th century onwards: Mirrors made extensively in London and Paris. They began to become more accessible. 

Late 17th century onwards: Mirrors and their frames began playing an important role in home decoration. 

1835: German chemist Justus von Liebig invented the process of coating a glass surface with metallic silver. This began the modern process of manufacturing mirrors and led to even greater accessibility of mirrors.

Now: The typical way to produce mirrors is by spreading a thin layer of molten aluminium or silver onto the back of a plate of glass in a vacuum. 




The way mirrors are made has changed and developed over the centuries. The manufacturing of these objects was far less advanced in the 1700s than it is today. Nonetheless, it is useful to observe how mirrors are made today, and think about how different this process would have been in the 18th century. The following video also provides some history of mirrors:




Furniture and decoration: from rarity to commonplace


“The mirror’s transformation from luxury object to everyday trinket, so well integrated into our daily life today, developed slowly, impeded not only by technical and economic obstacles, but also by psychological and moral misgivings.”


-        Melchoir-Bonnet, 2 


A display of wealth


Leading up to the eighteenth century, glass mirrors were becoming an essential item in the aristocratic lady’s toilette. In the seventeenth century, philosopher Saint-Simon noted the extortionate price which the current Countess de Fiesque paid for hers: I had a nasty piece of land that brought in nothing but wheat; I sold it and in return I got this beautiful mirror. Did I not work wonders—some wheat for this beautiful mirror?” Despite the fact that they were usually no bigger than a dinner plate, these objects were an aristocratic luxury and definite display of wealth for a long time. While metal mirrors had existed in China and Egypt for millennia, the Venetian glass mirrors, with their superior reflectivity, became desired items among the European elite. In the sixteenth century, Louis XIV had the most impressive collection of mirrors, owning 563. Then, in 1682, he unveiled the Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors. It is described as follows:


‘There, 17 gigantic false window casements, each covered with 21 panes of mirrored glass, faced 17 real windows looking out over the grounds, thereby, one guest reported, "expand[ing] this hall a million times over so it seem[ed] almost infinite." The Hall of Mirrors was a supreme and irrefutable expression of the king's incomparable might.’ (from The Mirror: A History)



Marie Antoinette



Figure 3: In this image Marie Antoinette is shown to be extremely wealthy and opulent. She is wearing a feathered hat, displays pears around her neck and is dressed in an elaborate dress with lace and frills. The apparent richness of her appearance undercuts the fact that she is presented as being natural and among nature by holding a rose and having a tree in the background. The very fact that she is posing for a painting of herself conveys her self-love and narcissism. 


In October, 1789, French revolutionaries stormed the gates of Versailles, and began shattering mirrors on Marie Antoinette’s bedroom walls. This action was greatly symbolic. It conveyed disdain for the Queen’s frivolity and self-absorption, shown by her many mirrors. Antoinette’s subjects felt she was too distracted by her own appearance to notice or care about their poverty and suffering.


On a greater level, this represented an attack on the entire aristocratic way of life: a superficial and self-involved regime. The revolution’s leaders wished to promote a society based, not on outward appearance, but on internal qualities such as virtue, justice and compassion. As a result of this symbolic act, after 1789 orders decreased at France’s royal mirror manufactory, founded by Louis XIV. Furthermore, in 1793, when Marie Antoinette was a prisoner of the new French Republic, she was denied access to the mirror, continuing her punishment for self-absorption. Initially, it seemed as if the sparkling era of mirrors was coming to an end. 


From rarity to commonplace


This effort to remove narcissism from humanity was short-lived since, by the end of the 18th century, mirrors became cheaper and more accessible due to technological advances. Pendergrast writes about mirrors in the 1700s: “With the advent of cheap industrialised glass and modern methods of applying reflective material to it, mirrors have become common objects even in the poorest of homes”. Looking glasses were becoming gradually less rare, with company sales rising by 400% between 1725 and 1788. 


Pendergrast explained that "by the end of the seventeenth century, the secularisation of the mirror was clearly complete" (129). This can be exemplified by the way the English metaphorically called a urine-filled chamber pot a looking glass. Physician, John Collop, explained how he could make a medical diagnosis by examining human waste: "Hence, looking-glasses, Chamber-pots we call/'Cause in your piss we can discover all". 


Wall mirrors


Wall-mirrors, according to Clouston, are not really a looking glass. Their primary intention is to give a feeling of air and space, and to alter the apparent proportions of a room. In the Queen Anne period (1707-1714), Clouston believed they rank “with the best furniture of their time…simple yet satisfying, and rich without extravagance”. These mirrors often had a gilded shell over the glass, and the tops and bottoms were cut into curves. They were inexpensive to produce yet very effective, which is why they are still in use today.


Thomas Chippendale, 1718-1779, is worthy of mention when discussing eighteenth century decorative mirrors. As is often believed, Chippendale was not just a cabinet maker. He is arguably one of the most important English furniture designers in history, not only producing interesting new designs, but also influencing aesthetic taste across the globe, essentially becoming an interior designer. When he published his Director in 1754, he expanded his audience greatly, receiving commissions from stately homes. Offering a combination of functional, fashionable and unique furniture, he pushed the aristocracy and landed gentry to spend money on furniture. Wall mirrors were a key part of the decorative furniture he offered.


Figure 4: Here is an example of a mid-eighteenth century Chippendale giltwood overmantel mirror. It is currently on sale from Ronald Phillips Antiques for a price range of £100,000 plus, displaying its value now. It retains its original gilding and has an 18th century replaced arch centre plate with palm frond carved surround and mostly original border plates, divided by decoratively carved sides.


Mirror frames


Clouston wrote that the “from a furniture point of view…it is not the surface but the frame surrounding it which is of interest.”


Continuing with an analysis of mirrors in the 18th century as decorative as well as practical, frames are an important part of the overall product. Early mirror frames were usually made of ivory, silver, ebony or tortoiseshell. By the end of the 1700s, however, frames were more often decorated with floral patterns or even classical ornaments.


The Mirror in the home


Many search results which came from 'mirror' were of or about The Mirror newspaper. One interesting thought which arose during my research is, where did the name for newspaper come from? While there are no concrete answers, it is interesting to think of it in the sense that the newspaper is mirroring society, reflecting its thoughts and showing its stories. The Mirror is a strong linking point between the metaphorical use of 'mirror' and mirrors in their literal sense, due to the physical presence of the newspaper.


To find out more about newspapers and journalism in the 18th century, visit this page: Newspaper


Mirrors and the self




Similarly to today, mirrors in the eighteenth century were practical as well as decorative, enabling people to see more of themselves than their own hands and feet for the first time. In the mirror, one could finally see, and therefore control, how other people saw them. Dressing for others consequently emerged as an essential feature of civilised society. By being dedicated to grooming, fashion and personal appearance, one showed respect for those around them, and especially for their sovereign.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one definition of ‘mirror’ is “a small looking-glass formerly worn in hats by men and at the waist by women”



Vanity: the immoral mirror


Figure 5: The image above shows Narcissus gazing at his own reflection in the water. This links to the next point of discussion: how mirrors were sometimes perceived as immoral for encouraging vanity within people. 


Melchoir- Bonnet wrote about attitudes to vanity in the 18th century: “The gaze upon the self, upon one’s body, is the guiltiest of all, the fermentation of all vanities”. Mirrors were prohibited in convents due to the idea that one should not even be able to see their own naked body. Furthermore, gazing at oneself in the mirror forces a comparison with others, therefore inducing envy. The 17th and 18th century preachers placed envy right behind greed and lust in terms of sins. “Coquetry, lies, laziness, insouciance, and pride: all of these old demons of the mirror are presented at the dinner table.” These quotes show how mirrors were often linked to sins, even if to reveal a sin within a person. 



Figure 6: This image displays the Countess of Coventry, Maria Gunning, who was the first woman on record to die from make-up poisoning. Her mirror was recently sold at auction for £300,000


Vanity could actually bring physical punishment in the 18th century. Countess of Coventry, Maria Gunning’s beauty regime eventually lead to her demise, since she died of lead poisoning from the make-up she wore every day. Despite being a famous beauty, when the make-up began to eat away her skin, she first lost her looks and then her life, dying of blood poisoning. This toxic make-up was believed to be the killer of a famous actress, Kitty Fischer, and even Elizabeth I, who was never seen without her whitened “mask of youth”. Maria was recorded as the first victim of vanity when she died, aged 27 in 1760, with her face eaten away by acid. Recently, the 7ft mirror owned by the Countess, which she used to look at her initially stunning reflection and then disgusting features, was auctioned off for more than £300,000. The 253-year-old mirror was sold for a very good price, especially considering the Countess would have only used it for a matter of months. 


Poison(s) - this page on poison in the 18th century goes into further detail about poison in make-up, as well as discussing poison in 18th century literature and other fascinating facts about poison in the 1700s.  


Jane Austen: an attack on mirrors


Jonathan Miller asserts: “The mirror is almost universally regarded as the epitome of representation.”


As Vandersluis writes, in her fiction, Austen questions the reliability of mirrors “metaphorical, actual, or implied” and demonstrates how they conceal rather than reveal truths. Austen views mirrors as an unfavourable symbol of vanity. She also disagrees with those who claim their writing is “a mirror up to nature”, further asserting that mirrors cannot reflect or reveal deeper truth. There are multiple characters in Austen’s fiction who surround themselves with mirrors in some form, and who are also “vain, superficial and deluded”. The implied mirrors of Austen mentioned above are just as important as the actual mirrors she features in her novels. In fact, they exemplify her technique of masking, subtlety and inference rather than obvious didacticism, and “to read the novel[s] completely, we need to be attentive to things that [they do] not speak of in detail”. Consequently, Austen repeatedly illustrates how mirrors are unreliable, and a societal symbol of vanity, and links this with a socio-political message about the untruth of some books, ideas and slogans


These claims can be exemplified in a number of Austen’s characters:


Camilla Stanley from “Catharine, or the Bower” is obsessed with her appearance, and is seemingly surrounded by mirrors. Indeed, “Happy was it for her when the hour of dressing came, for Camilla, satisfied with being surrounded by her mother and half the maids in the house” did not need anything but a looking glass. It is apparent that “all her Ideas were towards the Elegance of her appearance, the fashion of her dress, and the Admiration she wished them to excite”. Thus, Camilla is portrayed as being very aware of her own appearance, and also reliant on mirrors. It is actually the heroine, Kitty (Catharine) Percival who receives the greatest remonstrance in “Catharine, or the Bower”. Despite being literate and politically astute she cannot seem to see herself or her surroundings for what they really are. Just before Edward Stanley comes to the house where Kitty is staying, she gives “one look at herself in the glass” but does not see who she is. For Kitty, appearance is everything. She believes Camilla to be “easily satisfied” with her because of her appearance.


In Pride and Prejudice, Mr Collins surrounds himself with windows, hoping to often view his own reflection as well as display his wealth. However, he always remains oblivious to the events going on around him. Moreover, he judges everybody around him without knowledge or fact to back up his assumptions. His first impressions are like a quick glance in the mirror or window; probably wrong or at least not revealing the whole story. For instance, his reasons for wanting to marry Elizabeth are completely self-indulgent, and when she refuses his offer he gives her “a formal wave of her the hand”, refusing to believe her and claiming she is “not serious” in her answer. Consequently his own self-importance is revealed.


Likewise, Northanger Abbey deals with vanity. Mrs Morland recommends a letter to Catherine in a periodical relevantly titled The Mirror. The letter, dated 6 March 1779 and written by a fictional John Homespun, tells of his daughters who are eager to change everything around them while not realising their own vanity. They spend hours in front of the mirror in place of kindness and happiness: they “check every approach to mirth by calling it vulgar”. Homespun ends saying “[I]t is sport to them, but Death to us”. Mrs Morland gives the letter to Catherine to make her well again by showing her what could happen if she lets herself be consumed by vanity, concentrating only on her reflection in the mirror, as the two ladies do.


Finally, Emma Woodhouse “reads everything through the lens of her own vanity” (Vandersluis). For instance, she asks Mr Knightly: “Does my vain spirit ever tell me I am wrong?” The way she views herself in the mirror parallels the ways she reads situations, and life. She never goes any deeper than a first impression, whether this is of herself in the mirror, or other people. Throughout the novel, she constantly misjudges people and situtions. She believes Frank Churchill to be confessing his love for her, “There are some implied mirrors in the novel. After being proven wrong about Mr Elton, the narrator explains that “the hair was curled, the maid sent away, and Emma sat down to be miserable”. The idea here seems to be that Emma has been looking at her reflecting in the looking glass, and only sees someone who has failed, and whose plans have be defeated momentarily. Emma is mistaken about many of the characters in the novel. It is only at the end that “she saw it all with a clearness which had never blessed her before” (408) and “this was the conclusion of the first series of reflection”. Finally, Emma sees her true self, and her reflection is not from a mirror, but from real events. She sees herself no more as a woman of beauty and energy, but someone caught up in her own vanity. The narrator concludes: “with insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody’s feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange everybody’s destiny” (413).




“Men of the eighteenth century, by then familiar with household mirrors, did not look at themselves in the same manner as men of the twelfth century, for whom the reflected image went hand-in-hand with the devil.” (5)


While mirrors were often associated with vanity and self-indulgence, the term ‘mirror’ and ‘looking glass’ was often used symbolically or metaphorically in instruction or conduct books, or just books which promote a specific behaviour.


Figure 7: A Mirror, or looking glass for saint and sinner: The important doctrines of the law and gospel opened up in a practical essay. 


In the above example, the author of the paper writes how one should act to be like a saint, and displays what a sinner looks like, hence providing a ‘mirror’ to these behaviours. This is done in the context of presenting the important parts of the law and the gospel, and is conveyed in a practical essay, thus giving examples of how one can act to adhere to the law and religion. For example, the reader is told “Labour after a true and lively impression of the holiness and Divine Majesty…God upon your spirits; and, in all things that you do, study to have his glory before your eyes”. This presumably displays “a mirror” for a “saint”. Sinful behaviour, which one should avoid in order to be ‘saint-like’, is also identified: “Renounce all self-righteousness, all confidence in the flesh, and seek to be cloathed with the immaculate robe of a Redeemer’s righteousness.”


Figures 8 and 9: The image below show some more examples of the way 'looking glass' was used within conduct and instruction books in the eighteenth century:





Therefore, in the 18th century, there existed the idea that men realise morality through example. This is demonstrated in L'Enfant et le Miroir by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-1794). Addressing her child who stamps his feet in front of the mirror, the mother says:


"Why don't you make this long face 

before the naughty one who causes your vexation?

Yes, look now, you smile, he smiles

You hold out your arms to him and he does the same 

You're no longer angry and neither is he

Here you see the emblem of society

Good and evil are returned back to us"


Towards the end of the 18th century, treatises on civility and mirrors started appearing, which allowed everyone to learn morality through the gestures of others, reflecting their behaviour and "increasing their adaptability, their conformity and their virtuous sociability" (Melchoir-Bonnet, 154). The mirror which existed within court life allowed the knight to learn gestures of civility, promoted the ideal of the honest man and refined his image. Initially, the mirror was an aristocratic ideal, but as it became more commonplace, it served as a symbol of equality for everyone. Consequently, "widespread use of mirrors and the reversibility of their reflections announced the advent of a bourgeois and democratic world" (Melchoir-Bonnet, 154). 


In 1739, David Hume wrote: "In general we may remark, that the minds of men are mirrors to one another, not only because they reflect each others emotions, but also because those rays of passions, sentiments and opinions may be often reverberated, and may decay away by insensible degrees" (A Treatise of Human Nature). This further illustrates the idea that people learn morality from each other, mirroring what others do and think.  


Seduction: mirrors in the bedroom


Mirrors were, of course, used often in the bedroom. While this was for decorative and practical reasons, mirrors also became linked with lust, seduction and love, and have continued to remain symbols of this throughout literature.


“In the eighteenth century, the effects of mirrors, from which surprises and seductions are born, become the indispensable element of all settings for games of love.” (Melchoir-Bonnet).


The architect, Le Camus de Mezieres (1721-1789) devoted more than 20 pages of his Genie de l’architecture (1780) to the arrangements of mirrors in boudoirs.




Figure 10: This is the cover to The History of Women, a fascinating insight into how women and their behaviours were perceived in the 18th century. Interestingly, it is written by a man. 


In The History of Women, published in 1779, it is said that “Mirrors…with regard to their utility in female life, may be justly reckoned among the most valuable of human inventions”. This one quote reveals a great deal about women’s opinions and treatment of mirrors during the 18th century.  With the recent boom in mirrors due to becoming easier to produce, most women, regardless of class, would have been able to own one by the end of the 18th century. This was revolutionary since women could dress themselves for others, unlike before the accessibility of mirrors. Women could do their own hair and make-up, and completely style themselves.


In The Life of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell makes an interesting comparison between women using looking glasses, and men using journals: "LORD TRIMBLESTOWN. 'True, Sir. As the ladies love to see themselves in a glass; so a man likes to see himself in his journal.' ... BOSWELL. "And as a lady adjusts her dress before a mirror, a man adjusts his character by looking at his journal.'" This quotation very much emphasises how much ladies valued mirrors in the 18th century by comparing them to the importance of a diary, a personal and irreplaceable possession. 


  Scientific uses of mirrors: the rise of the telescope


How were they used?


Figure 11: This shows a double-page spread of Institutes of Natural Philosophy, Theoretical and Experimental, written by William Enfield in 1785. The book is extensive, detailing many scientific theories and studies. This particular spread illustrates its discussion on telescopes, which often mentions the central role mirrors play in these instruments. 


Institutes of natural philosophy, theoretical and experimental by William Enfield, printed in 1785, is proof that mirrors were used frequently within science and for scientific and technological objects. In Chapter VI of the book, ‘Of Vision’, reflection in a mirror is explained in scientific terms. For example, one quote states: “if a plane mirror and the object seen in it are both perpendicular to the horizon, the object appears erect.” Another example is: “If, at a certain distance from the mirror, the whole object cannot be seen by reflection, the whole will become visible either by bringing the eye nearer to the mirror, or removing the object farther from it”. Each of these quotes are subsequently explained in much more detail, using scientific and mathematical calculations. The effects of using different types of mirrors are also explained, distinguishing between spherical and plane mirrors, and then further between concave and convex. This discussion of mirrors and reflection is part of a large book focused on science and its theories, including sections on mechanics, pneumatics, light, astronomy, magnetism and electricity. The fact that discussion of mirrors appears in such a central scientific book conveys their importance in science in the 18th century.


Even objects which used mirrors and reflection are discussion in detail. The way a telescope works is documented: “An Astronomical Telescope consists of two convex lenses, whose distance from each other is equal to the sum of their principal foci: that lens which is towards the object is called the object-glass; that which is next the eye is called the eye-glass. Expand. 


Herschel's Great Forty-Foot telescope 


Herschelian, adj. (and n.) 


Of or relating to Sir William Herschel or his son Sir John Herschel.  Herschelian telescope n. a form of reflecting telescope having a concave mirror slightly inclined to the axis.  Herschelian rays n. the ultra-red heat rays of the spectrum, the existence of which was first proved by Sir W. Herschel.

1792   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 82 310 - I looked at the planet with an Herschellean four and seven-feet reflector.

1837   C. R. Goring & A. Pritchard Microgr. 155 - The Newtonian and Herschelian telescopes having very small angles of aperture, will admit of concave metals with spherical figures.

1838   Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 1 58 - A seven feet Herschelian.



Figure 12: Above is a portrait of Frederick Herschel, who invented the Herschelian telescope in the 18th century. 


Frederick William Herschel, 1738-1822, was a British astronomer and composer who was born in Germany and migrated to Great Britain at the age of 19. He was known for discovering Uranus and infrared radiation, for deep sky surveys and for being the first President of the Royal Astronomical society and winning a Copley Medal. One of his most famous inventions, his Great Forty-Foot telescope, was a reflecting telescope which he constructed between 1785 and 1789 at Observatory House in Slough. It used a 120-centimetre-diameter primary mirror with a 12-metre-long focal length, making it the largest telescope in the world for 50 years. It was dismantled in 1840, but the original mirror and a section of the tube still remain today. The mirror was funded by King George III, who granted £4000 for it to be made. The King and the Archbishop of Canterbury both went to visit the mirror during its construction period; when entering the mouth of the huge tube, the King said, “Come, my Lord Bishop, I will show you the way to Heaven!” Two 120cm concave metal mirrors were made for the telescope. The first one was cast in London on 31 October 1785, and was made of speculum, which is an alloy mostly of copper and tin, with arsenic to improve the finish. It weighed a colossus total of 1023 pounds after being cast, and yet it was 0.9 inches thinner at the centre than at the edge. The mirror was then grinded and polished for over a year, at which time Herschel still found it “much too thin to keep its figure when put into the telescope”. Consequently a second mirror, with twice the thickness of the original, was cast and used instead of the first one. This second mirror, however, needed frequent polishing due to the tarnishing nature of the metal, and so the original mirror was used while the second was being polished. These mirrors were the largest in the world until 1845. This particular design came to be called the Herschelian telescope because the astronomer removed the usual Newtonian reflector from his design, instead tilting the primary mirror so he could view the formed image when he stood in an observing cage in front of the telescope. This prevented the light loss which the image would have suffered if a speculum metal diagonal mirror had been used.


Figure 13: The above image is a drawing of the Great Forty-Foot telescope in its frame            Figure 14: This shows the telescope's first mirror on display in the London Science Museum 


Herschel’s comment on his first observation with the telescope on 19 February 1787 was recorded: "The apparatus for the 40-foot telescope was by this time so far completed that I could put the mirror into the tube and direct it to a celestial object; but having no eye-glass fixed, not being acquainted with the focal length which was to be tried, I went into the tube, and laying down near the mouth of it I held the eye-glass in my hand, and soon found the place of the focus. The object I viewed was the nebula in the belt of Orion, and I found the figure of the mirror, though far from perfect, better than I had expected. It showed four small stars in the nebula and many more. The nebula was extremely bright." It is thought that the telescope was used to discover Enceladus and Mimas, the 6th and 7th moons of Saturn (although this is not definite as Herschel may have used another telescope). Moreover, Caroline, Herschel’s wife, was granted a pension of £50 per year to be her husband’s assistant, making her the first woman to be paid as an astronomer. The first mirror is now kept in the Science Museum in London, while the second one is in the hall of the Observatory House after the telescope was dismantled.


Luck, illusion, magic and trickery 


"The breaking of a mirror gives us more concern when at home, than the burning of a house, when abroad" - David Hume, A treatise of human nature: being an attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects 1739-1740


The above quotation conveys how the superstition surrounding the breaking of mirrors was existent even in the 18th century. Prior to the 1700s, mirrors were "universally connected with religious practices and attempts to delve into the mysteries of life, including magical divination in dark reflective surfaces" (Pendergrast). Magic and illusion were still very much connected to the mirror, although with the Enlightenment approaching and science growing, rationality was very much present alongside magic. 



Snow white


According to German scholar, Karlheinz Bartels, the German folk tale “Snow White” was influenced by Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal, who was born in Lohr am Main in 1725. After her mother’s death in 1741, her father Phillipp remarried. Maria Sophia’s new stepmother, Claudia, was domineering and seemed to favour the children from her first marriage far more than Maria. Queen Claudia had a famous mirror, known as ‘The Talking Mirror’, which can actually still be viewed at the Spessart Museum in Lohr Castle today. This mirror was most likely to have been a gift from Phillipp to his new wife, and was made by the Lohr Mirror Manufacture. Mirrors from Lohr were so elaborate and carefully made that they were known to “always speak the truth”, hence the name of Claudia’s mirror. Interestingly, the corner of ‘The Talking Mirror’ also contains a reference to self-love (Amour Propre). It is this which matches the character of the Evil Queen in the story of Snow White. Vainly, the queen asks her mirror every morning: “Magic mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?” The mirror always replies: “My Queen, you are the fairest in the land.” This is until Snow White is born, when the mirror suddenly tells her: “My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you.” The Queen experiences several failed attempts to kill Snow White for being more beautiful, and eventually this leads to her own death (depending on the version). Soon after this, in 1812, The Brothers Grimm published the story of Snow White in their first edition of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales collection. In German, it was entitled Sneewittchen and it was Tale 53.  



Figure 15: This is the 'Talking Mirror' at the Spessart Museum in Lohr am Main, which was originally the castle where Prince Phillipp Christoph von Erthal and Claudia, Countess of Reichenstein lived. 


The Enchanted Mirror: a Moorish Romance (1799)


This 129-page novel uses the device of a magic mirror to frame its story. The author, who is unknown, lets his reader know in the preface that this is a story "in which you the truth of Pope's maxim will find. It is education that forms the young mind, and as the twig's bent, so the tree is inclined". The enchanted mirror is used literally in the plot, but is also used as part of the wider aim in this moralistic tale. 



The symbolic mirror: mirrors in literature and art


Hogarth: Marriage a la Mode


Canvas 1: The Marriage Settlement                                                                     Canvas 4: The Toilette                                                                                   Canvas 6: The Lady's Death



Hogarth aimed his Marriage a la Mode series at the aristocracy, as well as making fun of these upper classes in these paintings. The titles means ‘modern marriage’, and is responding to the eighteenth century debate of love or money: the idea that some marriages were still being arranged for economic reasons rather than for love. The series tells the story of the Squanderfield family, the name comically suggesting that this family have squandered money to reach this upper class status. Consequently, Lord Squanderfield must find a rich merchant’s daughter for his son to marry. He must enduce an economic exchange, whereby his son marries for money and in return the merchant’s daughter gains a title.


Moving onto the paintings themselves, the first, entitled The Marriage Settlement shows this arrangement being made. Significantly, the son is shown to be gazing into a mirror at his own reflection, thus suggesting his vanity. This may convey the self-love of the entire Sqanderfield family, who are vain enough to place importance on their title, and on maintaining their status in society by spending so much time arranging a marriage for purely monetary reasons. Moreover, the son is sitting with his back to the woman he will marry, portraying his disinterest in her. He does not care for the girl, he is simply marrying her for her money and value. Fascinatingly, Lord Squanderfield’s position is situated between a long family tree, and the money being paid to him as dowry, further confirming the materialistic nature of this marriage decision. Most characters are in this painting for their own personal gains: the merchant’s father gains a title for his daughter, the lawyer will be paid for his work, the architect looks out the window at the building he is designing and Silvertongue is sweet-talking the merchant’s daughter. Resultantly, Hogarth indicates an inherent self-involvement within the upper class, emphasised by the mirror in the image.


The second canvas, Tete a Tete, shows the husband in a poor state after, presumably, a night of gambling, drinking and womanising. The girl is also shown to have probably been unfaithful to her husband through the flirtatious look on her face, her undone bodice and a small hand mirror which she waves above her head, perhaps as a signal to her lover. The general appearance of the room suggests that love-making took place just before the husband arrived home, with the music books on the floor emphasising this as music was a symbol of love. Overall, the painting suggests ruined love, with the painting of cupid among the ruins reflecting the love between the young couple.


The fourth canvas is the most relevant in this discussion of mirrors within Marriage a la Mode. It is called The Toilette because it shows the lady at her dressing table having her hair and makeup done. The selfishness of the aristocracy is once again shown by the fact that the young woman is without her child. There is indication she has had a child from the string of coral beads, used when children are teething, and yet she is with her friends rather than mothering. Once again, Silvertongue appears and his appearance in the bedroom suggests he is now officially the young woman’s lover.


In the fifth canvas, Silvertongue kills the young Lord Squanderfield after the two enter a duel when Silvertongue is caught with Squanderfield’s wife. In the final painting, The Lady’s Death, the absolute horror of this story culminates in the young lady having poisoned herself after reading that her lover, Silvertongue, has been hung for killing Squanderfield. The lady’s child is brought to her to say a final farewell as her mum dies, and a black spot denoting syphilis is prominent on the child’s neck. Consequently, Hogarth explicitly criticises the aristocratic practices of arranged marriage. He shows the upper class to be greedy through the image of the dog stealing meat as the woman dies in the chair. Mirrors are a frequent and important part of this series of canvases, ultimately representing the narcissism, greed and self-love of the aristocracy.


William Makepeace Thackeray summed up the moral of Marriage a la Mode:


"This famous set of pictures contains the most important and highly wrought of the Hogarth comedies. The care and method with which the moral grounds of these pictures are laid is as remarkable as the wit and skill of the observing and dexterous artist. He has to describe the negotiations for a marriage pending between the daughter of a rich citizen Alderman and young Lord Viscount Squanderfield, the dissipated son of a gouty old Earl ... The dismal end is known. My lord draws upon the counselor, who kills him, and is apprehended while endeavouring to escape. My lady goes back perforce to the Alderman of the City, and faints upon reading Counsellor Silvertongue's dying speech at Tyburn (place of execution in old London), where the counselor has been 'executed for sending his lordship out of the world. Moral: don’t listen to evil silver-tongued counselors; don't marry a man for his rank, or a woman for her money; don't frequent foolish auctions and masquerade balls unknown to your husband; don't have wicked companions abroad and neglect your wife, otherwise you will be run through the body, and ruin will ensue, and disgrace, and Tyburn"




This Youtube video provides an entertaining and detailed analysis of Marriage a la Mode: 



Hold a mirror up to nature


"Suit the action to the word, and the word to the action; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature; for anything so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature" - Hamlet



The idea of poets and writers using imitation in their work was prevalent in the 18th century. M.H. Abrams said "So long as the poet was regarded primarily as an agent who holds a mirror up to nature, or as the maker of the work of art according to universal standards of excellence, there was limited theoretical room for the intrusion of personal traits into his products". According to classicist theories, writers imitated, not "real" nature, but its improved and heightened form - la belle nature. Nonetheless, there still existed the idea that, in their writing, poets were mirroring or reflecting nature. This theory therefoe used the word 'mirror' in the sense of a metaphorical reflection, of creating an image of something in writing.




In Pope's The Rape of the Lock and Swift's The Lady's Dressing Room, women, and the aristocracy in general, are mocked for their vanity through satire, and mirrors were useful tools to both authors as a way to convey such self-love. In The Lady's Dressing Room below female beauty is shown to be a facade, since behind the closed doors of the bedroom women are far from delicate and clean. The looking glass in this poem magnifies Cecilia, making her seem like a "Gyant" rather than petite and beautiful as she usually appears. Moreover, the mirror is "a glass that can to Sight disclose/the smallest Worm in Cecilia's nose". Consequently the mirror reveals a disgusting side of Cecilia. The concept of spending time on outer beauty is criticised through this satire.


A section from The Lady's Dressing Room: 


Five Hours, (and who can do it less in?)
By haughty Celia spent in Dressing;
The Goddess from her Chamber issues,
Array'd in Lace, Brocades and Tissues.

   Strephon, who found the Room was void, [5]
And Betty otherwise employ'd;
Stole in, and took a strict Survey,
Of all the Litter as it lay;
Whereof, to make the Matter clear,
An Inventory follows here. [10]


   And first a dirty Smock appear'd,
Beneath the Arm-pits well besmear'd.
Strephon, the Rogue, display'd it wide,
And turn'd it round on every Side.
On such a Point few Words are best, [15]
And Strephon bids us guess the rest;
But swears how damnably the Men lie,
In calling Celia sweet and cleanly.
Now listen while he next produces,
The various Combs for various Uses, [20]
Fill'd up with Dirt so closely fixt,
No Brush could force a way betwixt.
A Paste of Composition rare,
Sweat, Dandriff, Powder, Lead and Hair;
A Forehead Cloth with Oyl upon't [25]
To smooth the Wrinkles on her Front;
Here Allum Flower to stop the Steams,
Exhal'd from sour unsavoury Streams,
There Night-gloves made of Tripsy's Hide,
Bequeath'd by Tripsy when she dy'd, [30]
With Puppy Water, Beauty's Help
Distill'd from Tripsy's darling Whelp;
Here Gallypots and Vials plac'd,
Some fill'd with washes, some with Paste,
Some with Pomatum, Paints and Slops, [35]
And Ointments good for scabby Chops.
Hard by a filthy Bason stands,
Fowl'd with the Scouring of her Hands;
The Bason takes whatever comes
The Scrapings of her Teeth and Gums, [40]
A nasty Compound of all Hues,
For here she spits, and here she spues.
But oh! it turn'd poor Strephon's Bowels,
When he beheld and smelt the Towels,
Begumm'd, bematter'd, and beslim'd [45]
With Dirt, and Sweat, and Ear-Wax grim'd.
No Object Strephon's Eye escapes,
Here Pettycoats in frowzy Heaps;
Nor be the Handkerchiefs forgot
All varnish'd o'er with Snuff and Snot. [50]
The Stockings, why shou'd I expose,
Stain'd with the Marks of stinking Toes;
Or greasy Coifs and Pinners reeking,
Which Celia slept at least a Week in?
A Pair of Tweezers next he found [55]
To pluck her Brows in Arches round,
Or Hairs that sink the Forehead low,
Or on her Chin like Bristles grow.


   The Virtues we must not let pass,
Of Celia's magnifying Glass. [60]
When frighted Strephon cast his Eye on't
It shew'd the Visage of a Gyant.
A Glass that can to Sight disclose,
The smallest Worm in Celia's Nose,
And faithfully direct her Nail [65]
To squeeze it out from Head to Tail;
For catch it nicely by the Head,
It must come out alive or dead.


Annotated bibliography


Dictionary definitions


Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed via:



Johnson, Samuel. Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language. Accessed via:



Primary sources


Alexander, William. The History of Women (Vol. II). Dublin. 1779. 480 pages. Accessed via Historical Texts. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.


The frontispiece of the book states “giving some account of almost every interesting particular concerning that sex, among all nations, ancient and modern”, thus indicating the expanse of this book. The book suggested mirrors were of vital importance to women, and thus I used it in my discussion about mirrors and the self in the 18th century.


Anon. The Enchanted Mirror: A Moorish Romance. Salisbury. 1799. Printed and sold by J. Easton – St. Paul’s churchyard, London. 129 pages. Accessed via Historical Texts. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.


This was a very enjoyable read, and definitely improved my ability to read 18th century writing. The story exemplifies how magic mirrors were used in 18th century literature and writing, as they continue to appear today.


Anon. Virtue in a Village: or A Looking Glass for children in Humble Life. London. 1795. Printed for the booksellers, in town and country. 91 pages. Accessed via Historical Texts. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.


When searching for the term ‘looking glass’ on Historical Texts, many of the results which came up were conduct and advice books which used the term metaphorically in the title to indicate that the book will show you how to mimic a certain behaviour. I used this particular example when defining my term to convey that, in the 18th century, the term ‘mirror’ was often used in the context of setting exemplar behaviour for others to follow: it was used metaphorically as well as literally.


Anon. A Mirror or, Looking-Glass for Saint and Sinner. The Important Doctrines of the Law and Gospel opened up in a Practical Essay. Glasgow. 1793. Printed for Peter M’Arthur, bookseller, Paisley. 243 pages. Accessed via Historical Texts. Web. 2 Mar 2016.


This paper is an extended essay explaining the law and gospel, and how they can be applied in practical life. Similarly to the source above, the author chose to entitle it A Mirror, or Looking-Glass for Saint and Sinner, therefore telling the reader that the paper will reflect the behaviour of saints and sinners: in other words it will reveal what is right and what is sinful under religion and the law, and act as a guide. I used this to address how mirrors and morality were linked in the 18th century.


Austen, Jane. Catharine, Or, the Bower. Juvenilia Press. 1996. 96 pages. Print


Austen, Jane. Emma. 1815. Wordsworth Editions. 2000. 358 pages. Print.


Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. 1803. Accessed Via Project Gutenberg. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.


Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. Wordsworth Editions. 329 pages. Print.


I used four Jane Austen novels in this page in my discussion of Austen’s attack on mirrors, and in the wider subject of vanity in relation to mirrors in the 18th century. Austen used both literal and figurative mirrors throughout her work to portray the vanity of certain characters, and thus comment on wider social issues of the time. I therefore used Austen’s novels in conjunction with Reflections on Mirrors by Melora G. Vandersluis to formulate this discussion.


Camus Le De Mezieres, Nicolas. Le Genie de L’Architecture. 1780. Nabu Press. 2013. 302 pages. Print.


This fuelled my insight into the topic of mirrors in bedrooms, with the author devoting more than 20 pages of his book to this subject.


Carter, Elizabeth. ‘Ode to Melancholy’. Poems on Several Occasions. 1762. Accessed via Literature Online. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.


This was a fascinating poem to read, and I enjoyed gaining an insight into Carter’s work as I had never come across her before. While the poem was not centred on magic mirrors, it aptly demonstrates how the concept was in usage in 18th century literature.


The full poem can be accessed here: http://0-literature.proquest.com.pugwash.lib.warwick.ac.uk/searchFulltext.do?id=Z200649871&childSectionId=Z200649871&divLevel=2&queryId=2916516370872&trailId=152EC773C94&area=poetry&forward=textsFT&queryType=findWork


Claris de Florian, Jean-Pierre. ‘L’Enfant et le Miroir’. Fables de Florian. 1793. (Vol. 9, pp. 79-80). Adamant Media Corporation. 185 pages. Print.


I used Florian’s fable to further demonstrate how mirrors were often used as a tool to promote morality in the 1700s. In this case, a child is encouraged to stop be melancholy by his own reflection when he smiles, and this technique should be used in wider society.


Enflied, William. Institutes of Natural Philosophy, Theoretical and Experimental. London. 1799. Printed for J. Johnson. 455 pages. Accessed via Historical Texts. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.


This was a greatly useful source giving a wide view of science and scientific discoveries in the 18th century. It contained a section explaining reflection and optics, and also details about various scientific objects which used a mirror. The source showed me how mirrors were being used within science, and, consequently, provided a potential reason why the term increased in usage throughout the century.


Hogarth, William. Marriage a la Mode. 1743-1745. Accessed via The National Gallery. Web. 12 Feb. 2016. http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/


After studying Hogarth in class I was eager to include his work in this page, and Marriage a la Mode featured many literal mirrors which added to the portrayal of upper class society, and Hogarth’s criticism of them.


Hume, David. A treatise of human nature 1739-1740. Oxford UP (2nd ed.). 1978. 768 pages. Print.


Hume’s mention of breaking mirrors reveals that, like today, people were obsessed with superstition. It was a relevant way to begin a section about magic and illusion regarding mirrors.  


Rogers, Samuel. The Pleasures of Memory, with other poems. London. 1792. Sold by T. Cadell. Leopold Classic Library. 201 pages. Print.


Rogers’ poetry was also just used briefly as I investigated the usage of magic mirrors in the 1700s. Nonetheless, I very much enjoyed The Pleasures of Memory and gaining access to some of his other work.


Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury Childrens. 2014. Print.


The quote from this novel was used to introduce the section on mirrors and self-knowledge, since this fictional looking glass is meant to show the desperate desires of the onlooker’s heart. While this is not an 18th century source, it was interesting to compare this with an 18th century work like The Enchanted Mirror and think about how mirrors have been used in relation to self-knowledge throughout literature.  


Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 1603. ‘The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works’. Palgrave Macmillan. 2008. Print.


Hamlet was used in the context of discussing the 18th century idea of writers holding a mirror up to nature, seeing as this original saying came from the play. Some believed that it was a writers’ job to depict what nature is really like, therefore holding a metaphorical mirror up to the natural world and reflecting it in their writing.


Thackery, William Makepeace. The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century. Leopold Classic Library. 2016. Print.


Thackery makes a fascinating, accurate and amusing comment on Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode in this book, which seemed appropriate to quote following my examination of the painting series. 


Secondary sources


Anderson, Miranda. The Book of the Mirror. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2008. Print.


Bertamini, Marco. “Mirrors and the mind”. The British Psychology Society. 2010. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. www.bps.org.uk/


Bertamini’s article provided fascinating insight into how humans perceive reflection, and how difficult a process it actually is to recognise reflection. While this was not a direct focus in my page, it was nonetheless interesting to study when writing about mirrors and the self.


Clouston, R.S. “Eighteenth-Century Mirrors”. The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs. 9.37 (1906). 39-47. Accessed via JStor. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.



This article detailed attitudes to mirrors as furniture in the 1700s: what was fashionable, and the designers that used mirrors in their furniture, for example Chippendale.


Melchoir-Bonnet, Sabine. The Mirror: A History. Routledge (New ed. Edition). 2002. Print.


Melchoir-Bonnet’s book was one of the most useful sources I used in the creation of this page, since she provided, not only a history of the mirror in literal and practical senses, but also showed its symbolic presence, and the relationships between people and mirrors throughout time.


Mirror History. Web. 29 Jan. 2016. www.mirrorhistory.com/


This webpage was fantastic for a clear outline of the history of the mirror, and explanations about how they have been manufactured over time.


Oliver, Amy. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151541/Vanity-mirror-used-tragic-18th-century-society-beauty-27-died-make-poisoning-sells-300-000.html. 2012. Web. 5 Mar. 2016


This Daily Mail story informed me about Maria Gunning, who's mirror recently sold at auction, and who died of lead poisoning from make-up. 


Overview of 18th-Century English Poetry. 3 Mar 2001. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. http://loki.stockton.edu/~kinsellt/projects/dv/storyReader$27.html


I used this website briefly when looking into the 18th century theory of holding a mirror up to nature in writing.


Pasanek, Brad. The Mind is a Metaphor (Database). 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2016. 


A very useful database allowing the user to search a term in a specific time period and receive results of when and where it has been used in a metaphor. This was very useful for me as I conducted a lot of investigation into the symbolic use of 'mirror'.


Pendergrast, Mark. Mirror Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection. Basic Books (New ed. Edition). 2004. Print.


Like Melchoir-Bonnet, Pendergrast’s book was invaluable to me in this study. He focused slightly more on the practical uses of mirrors throughout history, but this was important when creating my section about mirrors and science, since there was much information about Herschal.


Prochazka, Martin. Literary Theory: An Historical Introduction. 2015. Print.


This provided a detailed insight into the theory of holding a mirror up to nature, and included some reactions to the theory from writers at the time, including Alexander Pope.


Vandersluis, Melora, G. “Reflections on Mirrors”. Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety and Harmony. Lehigh UP. Natasha Duquette and Elizabeth Lenckos eds. 2014. Print.


I was very glad to find this book, since it inspired my section about Jane Austen’s attack on mirrors, explaining her literal and figurative use of mirrors in her novels, and providing excellent examples to illustrate her points.


Wikipedia. “Magic Mirror (Snow White)”. 15 Feb 2016. Web. 5 Mar. 2016. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Mirror_(Snow_White)


While I recognise that Wikipedia is not always a reliable source, I was eager to find out details about Snow White in the 18th century, and this website provided the strongest and most in-depth account by far




Figure 1 – Accessed on the British Museum website:



Figure 2: Virtue in a Village: or, A Looking Glass for children in a humble life. London. 1795. Accessed via Historical Texts.


Figure 3: Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of France and Navarre. ‘Bastille Day and the French Revolution’. Web. 11 Mar. 2016. bastille-day.com/biography/marie-antoinette


Figure 4: An example of an 18th-century Chippendale overmantel mirror. Accessed via Ronald Phillips Antiques. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. www.ronaldphillipsantiques.com


Figure 5: Caravaggio. Narcissus. 1597-1599. Accessed via en.wikipedia.org. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.


Figure 6: Highmore, Joseph. Countess of Coventry, Maria Gunning, 1745. Waddesdon Manor (National Trust), Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire. Accessed via The Art World in Britain 1660 to 1735. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.


Figure 7: Anon. Frontispiece to A Mirror, or looking glass for saint and sinner: The important doctrines of the law and gospel opened up in a practical essay. Glasgow. 1793. Accessed via Historical Texts. 


Figure 8: Anon. The Artificer's Looking-Glass. Accessed via Historical Texts.


Figure 9: Anon. The Christian's Looking-Glass. 1792. Accessed via Historical Texts. 


Figure 10: Williams, Alexander. The History of Women. Accessed via Historical Texts.


Figure 11: Natural Philosophy, Theoretical and Experimental. Accessed via Historical Texts.


Figure 12: Portrait of Frederick Herschel. Accessed on commons.wikimedia.org


Figure 13: The Great Forty-Foot telescope in its stand. Accessed via en.wikipedia.org. Web 13 Mar. 2016.


Figure 14: The telescope's first mirror, now in the Science Museum, London. Accessed via en.wikipedia.org. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.


Figure 15: The 'Talking Mirror'. Accessed via en.wikipedia.org. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. 


Canvas 1, 4 and 6: Hogarth, William. Accessed via The National Gallery. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.


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