Set of leather panels

ca. 1650-1670

Martinus van den Heuvel

[Panel] Width: 654 mm, Height: 342 mm, Thickness: 10 mm [Panel] Height: 330 mm, Width: 365 mm

274&A-1899 FWK

[Panel] Fragment of a gilt leather panel, with two cupids. Painted in various colours on a grey ground. The full pattern shows five cupids symbolizing the five sences, Martinus van den Heuvel, Amsterdam, ca. 1650-1670. [Panel] Fragment of a gilt leather panel, with one cupids. Painted in various colours on a grey ground. The full pattern shows five cupids symbolizing the five sences, Martinus van den Heuvel, Amsterdam, ca. 1650-1670.

Technical analyses: 274-1899 item 13 (five samples): calf, c1mm thick. Size coating on the grain surface (probably parchment size). Silver leaf 0.004mm thick. It is possible that there are two coats of silver (but this was not verified). A size layer was applied and then silver leaf (untarnished). All the coloured layers were then applied - yellow, green, red, coppery brown and one which may have been a dark red and is now a purplish black. The yellow glaze and the reds and browns all have a bright flourescence indicating a resin content. Painting: the gold and green are simply laid on as flat washes of colour, but the dark reds and browns are used in a painterly manner to outline petals and shade the fruit. After the colours, the background grey was blocked in. Pigments: verdigris, dissolved copper green, red and brown lake, lead white, smalt. The green leaves are all painted with copper green - the light leaves are now pure verdigris, the dark leaves are verdigris almost fully dissolved in oil. The dark green is now opaque but will once have been semi translucent. The reds and browns are organic pigments. The background grey is lead white tinted with a small amount of blue smalt. The addition of the smalt will have been enough to give a cool tint to the grey without making it look an actual blue. The final varnish is resin based (with indigo). 274a-1899 item 14: calf, 0-.9-1.1mm thick. Size coating on the grain surface (probably parchment size). Silver leaf size: 52 x 54mm. A Technical investigation into the methods and materials used for gilt leather manufacture from the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (unpublished report, c.1996). Report prepared by Christopher Calnan, Adviser on Conservation of Organic Materials at the National Trust, London. Examination of decorative surface carried out by Catherine Hassell, University College, London Examination of vegetable tannins carried out by Jan Wouters, KIK, Brussels. [Panel] Fragment of a leather panel, embossed and gilded, with two cupids. The embossed pattern, which is excellently preserved, consists of swags of fruit and flowers, foliage, grapes, pomegranates and other fruit, with a monkey (upside down) and two cupids, one (female) holding a mirror ('sight'), and the other one (male) smelling a flower ('smell'). The full pattern show five cupids symbolizing the five senses, and was called the' Royaele' plate. Painted in various colours including red, gold, green, on a grey-pale ground. The panel, from which this is a fragment, is identical to the panel fragment 274A-1899. There are several nail holes through the panel. [Panel] Fragment of a gilt leather panel, with one cupid. The embossed pattern, which is excellently preserved, consists of a swag of fruit and flowers, foliage, grapes, pomegranates and other fruit, with a cupid smelling a flower ('smell'). The full pattern show five cupids symbolizing the five senses, and was called the' Royaele' plate. Painted in various colours on a grey ground. The panel, from which this is a fragment, was identical to the panel fragment 274-1899.

Gilt-leather hangings were a prestigious and fashionable wall-covering in 17th century Netherlands. In terms of cost, only good quality tapestry was a more expensive way to furnish walls. The three-dimensionality, rich colours and metal foils created a rich and luxurious effect. Leather was also durable, and had practical advantages over textiles in rooms used for dining, as they did not retain the smell of food. Gilt leather was also used as coverings for screens, chairs, mirror-boxes, chests, and cushions, table carpets, altar frontals, chasubles and independent panels to be displayed like pictures.

Given by H. Thomson Lyon (57 Onslow Square, London SW). Accepted on RF 98617/1898, as 'Spanish 17th century' This panel has been analysed as part of the gilt leather cataloguing project in 1996. Eloy Koldeweij, October 1996. See also: A Technical investigation into the methods and materials used for gilt leather manufacture from the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (unpublished report, c.1996, held by the FTF Dept.), items 13-14 Report prepared by Christopher Calnan, Adviser on Conservation of Organic Materials at the National Trust, London. Examination of decorative surface carried out by Catherine Hassell, University College, London Examination of vegetable tannins carried out by Jan Wouters, KIK, Brussels. The full design is shown in an engraving with the gilt-leather pattern of the royaele plaat (1075 x 774mm), V&A E.43-1929. This design the royaele plaat was introduced in 1663 or 1664. The size of this pattern, 1075 x 774mm. See also a wall hanging in the Stedelijk Museum 'De Lakenhal', Leiden; villa Aldobrandini, Frascati (It.). A copied version of the pattern survives on an altar frontal (V&A 728-1890). A mirrored, illegally copied, version of this pattern also exists (see Koldeweij, 1996 p.144). Production This panel would have been made using the following method, using vegetable tanned calf skin. A thin layer of silver leaf was used to cover the whole surface, fixed with parchment glue and covered with the same material to prevent oxidizing. One or two layers of yellow varnish (consisting usually of natural resins such as sandarac and asphaltum) were added. The leather (with foil and varnish already attached) was pressed foil-side down into a metal mould. Paints and coloured glazes were then added at this point, according to the the client's wishes, which added to the cost of the finished product.

Given by H. Thomson Lyon

Location: In Storage

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