02 October 2011

Visions in a Mirror: Husband or Skull

October is a favorite month for Porcelains and Peacocks because of the wonderfully pagan holiday of Halloween. Going back to the Celts. the last night of October was viewed as a portal between the worlds of the living and the dead which gave the Druids clarity to see into the future. Perhaps this is where the tradition of an unmarried woman peering into a mirror on Halloween originates. She would sit in a darkened room with a candle lit and if she were lucky she would see the visage of her future husband in the mirror but if she saw the image of a skull she would die unwed. American illustrator C. Allan Gilbert (1873-1929) played with the theme by creating an optical illusion of a woman gazing into a boudoir mirror that forms the shape of a skull in All is Vanity. A happier outcome is revealed in a Halloween card of the same era. Hans Baldung Grien (1484-1545) was a German Renaissance artist; when his maiden gazes into the mirror she is met with an image of a skull as she accidentally treads on a deadly serpent.

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