Art, Pray, Love: Ex-Votos as Objets d’Art

by Amitha Verma Interior Design, www.amithaverma.com

Growing up, I was fascinated by a book my Dad used to have in his waiting room, which I used to look at anytime I was at his office. It was devoted to art inspired by the heart. On the cover, I remember, was a beautiful object which I did not recognize but was intrigued by nonetheless.

Later, I found out that the object on the cover was an ex-voto.

An ex-voto is an offering to God in a material form. These objects are given in fulfillment of a vow, or in gratitude or devotion – like a personal thank you note to God. Ex-votos are designed to be placed in a church or chapel where the worshipper seeks grace or wishes to give thanks. In many cases, they are signed and dated, with an explanation of why the giver is offering thanks.

These artistic objects are very personal, but also quite public expressions of faith in God and thanks for blessings received – which makes them really quite fascinating.

A stunning collection of ex-votos, so beautiful and inspiring! (Source: Veranda, Nov 2007)

Ex-votos come in many forms, from candles to paintings and metal objects. My favorites are the heart-inspired ex-votos, which are often made in silver or gold and encrusted with jewels.

French antique silver ex-voto (Source: alhambraantiques.com)

Ex-votos, in all their different forms, were intended not only for the worshipper giving thanks, but also as testimony to later visitors of the received guidance. The ex-votos would often be collected at a shrine, where pilgrims would gather to pray.

Like so many of my inspirations, these pieces too have strong ties with old Europe, as part of a religious tradition. Even today, collections of ex-votos can be seen at famous sites like the church at Montmartre in Paris.

From a design point of view, the ex-voto holds endless possibilities. I love the idea of collecting lots of these beautiful objects, and creating a lovely showcase.

French antique mother-of-pearl, glass and gilt ex-voto. (Source: alhambraantiques.com)

This is the original ex-voto that I had seen on the cover of my Dad’s book, symbolizing a perfect triangle of emotion – faith, love and beauty.

Posted in Details, antiques | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Floor Mirrors with Presence

by Amitha Verma Interior Design, www.amithaverma.com

Since ancient times, mirrors have reflected back the image of the beholder. In ancient Greek mythology, we’re told the overtly proud and disdainful Narcissus, while gazing at his own reflection in a pond one day, was stricken with a divine curse. He was to fall in love with his own reflection and not be able to look away until death overcame him.

Another less tragic, yet great purveyor of mirrors would come centuries later when Louis XIV built the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles in 1678. I had the chance to visit this glorious site and really was charmed by the combination of the mirrors and lighting. During this time, due to the difficulty in manufacturing, mirrors were the highest priced luxury item one could possess. Fortunately for King Louis, the Venetian Republic monopolized the manufacturing of mirrors. He amassed a collection of 357 mirrors in his lifetime! View the Hall of Mirrors in 360 degree format, it is truly amazing.

Floor mirrors can be a gorgeous, accessory that takes advantage of the concept of scale. The majority of the large leaning mirrors found today are too massive to be attached attached to the wall.

French floor mirror
Avant Garde Design (via)

This gorgeous French gold gilt leaning mirror looks perfect set amongst the harp and campaign tables with a tall ceiling towering above.

Philippe Starck’s CAADRE mirror
Capitivist (via)

Philippe Starck’s CAADRE mirror makes an incredible spectacle in its modern form when placed in an Italian ballroom with an equally as modern table, white leather sofa and floor lamp.

Antique French Floor Mirror
Décor Allure (via)

This is the thing a French antique mirror! Gorgeous. All it needs is a little TLC and it will be as good as new.

Large Gold Floor Mirror
Elle Décor (via)

The massive gold framed mirror reflects the beauty of the room before it. Love the double hang chandeliers.

Posted in antiques, mirrors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment