Venetian Baroque Silver Cartagloria Frame with Mirror
Dimensions: 30 x 34 cm
Period: 18th century
Origin: Venice (Italy)
Maker’s initials: B.G.
The frame is made in silver. It has scroll borders with foliage crest on the top. The whole surface is embossed with relief decoration with chased and engraved details. The repertoire of decorative motives is characteristic for Baroque style, and it includes a profusion of “C” scrolls in the combination with acanthus foliage and two shells, one near the top and the other on bottom of the frame. The opulent effect of the decoration is further accomplished by the surfaces between the scrolls with finely stippled ground and with few smaller surfaces with chiselled decoration with fish scale pattern. The mirror is stamped with Venetian silver hallmark used in the 17th and 18th centuries and with maker’s initials B.G. The silver frame is fixed on the wooden base. The mirror is a later replacement possibly dating from the 19th century.
Cartagloria or altar card stand is a liturgical object in a form of a text within a frame. Card stands always came as a set of three frames standing on the altar in the church. The central frame was the largest one flanked by two identical smaller size frames. Actually cartagloria was intended as a mnemonic aid for the priest while he officiated at the altar. Each frame contained the texts of the Gloria, Credo, Offertory prayers, the Canon prayer ending with the words of Consecration, Hoc est corpus meum (“This is my body”), and the opening words of the Gospel of John. The Italian term cartagloria refers to the words Gloria in excelsis Deo, with which such altar cards always begin. Cartagloria entered in use during the Catholic Reformation in the 16th century.
Cartagloria frames usually made in silver in very opulent and elaborated manner are real representatives of Italian Baroque style. There was a common practise to replace the text from the cartagloria frame by a mirror, and to use it as a decorative item in the household, since the frames were designed in lavish manner and masterly crafted by skilful silversmiths active in the 17th and 18th centuries.
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