Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A typical detail from the cabinet/armoire from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands has some beautiful pieces of late medieval furniture. One of them is a large (222 x 353 x 79.5 cm) oak armoire (or cupboard) that belonged to the chapter house of the Dom cathedral in Utrecht. 

It was used as an archive cabinet, the shelves contained the drawers where the archives were kept. The armoire has four locks, but could be extra protected with a wooden beam in front of the doors. The armoire dates from the first half of the sixteenth century.

The interesting detail about this piece of furniture is not the wooden beam, but the doors. According to the Rijksmuseum "The doors comprise a framework containing individual panels". But if you take a closer look at the open door, you can see that this is not the case. Behind the framework are three large wooden boards, covering the 'clover' frames.

The Rijksmuseum is currently being refurbished and the furniture is not on display. However some pieces can be examined in detail from the museum webpage (I did as well).

Archive amoires, such as the one in the Rijksmuseum, are often found at churches or city councils. Another example is the oak armoire (privilegiekast or komme) in the Stedelijke Musea in Mechelen, Belgium (height 178 cm, width 230 cm, depth 68 cm) dating from around 1475. The armoire belonged to the house of the Alderman and used to store the charters.
As a strange coincidence, this museum is also being refurbished.

The armoire at the Stedelijke musea, Mechelen, Belgium. Image from the book 'Furniture in England, France and the Netherlands from the twelfth to the fifteenth century' by P. Eames. 

Detail of the upper locks of armoire from Mechelen. Each lock lies parallel with that of its neighbour Photo also from the P. Eames book.

This photo also shows the side of the armoire, which is of frame and panel construction.
Photo by the Stedelijke musea, Mechelen.

No comments:

Post a Comment