Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Medieval furniture from Koln

Some weeks ago, I showed the photos of the minnekastchen from the Museum fur angewandte Kunst made during our visit in Cologne, Germany. This post (and one of the next posts) I will continue with the other medieval furniture on display in this museum. Note that not all their furniture is on display, the complete collection can be found in the museum catalogue "Mobel - Gotik bis Jugendstil. Die Sammlung im Museum fur Angewandte Kunst Koln. Band XIV" by Edla Colsman. I will follow the list in the catalogue, adding additional information from it to my photos.

This is a small chest compared to the others on display and measures 41 x 94 x 53 cm. It is made from walnut, the sides are connected with beautiful small dovetails. The chest originates from Italy and dates from the early 15th century. 

The chest has no feet and stands on a small plinth. Remarkable is that the iron fittings - lock, hinges and handles are countersunk, so they are at the same level as the wooden boards of the chest. The fittings are open ironwork and red velvet can be seen behind it, providing a colourful contrast. The inside of the lid of the chest is covered with an intarsia pattern made of apple, oak and ivory dots. The outside of the chest is very rough, however it is likely that an intarsia pattern also was present here. The sides of the lid are are carved as animal heads. The chest has been used to store money and documents. 

 The intarsia pattern on the inside of the lid, and the open ironwork of the hinges showing red velvet behind.

 The top of the boards are also decorated with intarsia and reinforced at the sides with open ironwork.

 The iron fittings and the lock at the front of the chest.

The handle at the side.

This sedia Dantesca dates from the 15th century ard originates from Spain where it  is called sillon de cadera. The chair is made form walnut with intarsia from ivory, ebony, and pearl-shell.  The seating is made from leather, however not original, and nailed to the chair. The chair measures 71 x 69 x 50 cm.

 The back of the chair. Only the front and top of the chair have intarsia.

 The front of the chair showing the beautiful geometric intarsia.

 The two x-posts are connected to each other by bottom rail and armrest only.

Detail of the chair showing the armrest. A small part of the intarsia is missing, which gives us a good impression of the construction and thickness of the intasia.

This sedia Savoranola dates from the mid 15th century and originates from Switzerland. It is made of three types of wood; the posts are walnut, the feet rails are oak and the back is apple. All the parts of the seating and the x are connected with a wooden rod. The chair measures 84 x 68 52 cm, the seating height is 50 cm.

 The armrests are decorated with human heads (man and woman) and a crude pattern of punched dots.

 The backrest is secured by a pin. To fold the chair, the backrest needs to be removed.

This is a small so-called 'Frontalstollentruhe', or hutch type chest dating from the second half of the 16th century. This type of chest can be found throughout the middle ages, but the panelled lid of this chest gives it a later date. The chest is made from pine and originates from Switzerland. Sizes are 75 x 95 x 54 cm.

Typical chip carving patterns on the front of the chest.

A hanging cupboard, which is typical for the West-Rhine area. It originates from Koln and dates from the last quarter of the 15th century.  It is made from oak and measures 73 x 54 x 16.5 cm. According to the catalogue the function of this cupboard is a bit of a mystery. Normally, openwork hanging cupboards are used for storing food products (as the aumbry), but this piece is too heavily decorated for kitchen purpose.The museum has a second hanging cupboard, of which can be found in the catalogue.

The door of the hanging cupboard is in the middle, inside the cupboard is divided by two shelves. 
The cupboard contains traces of red paint, and was likely completely painted.

This lectern with Gothic openwork decoration dates from the end of the 15th century and originated form the Rhine area. It is made of oak and its dimensions are 28 x 45 x 24 cm. The boards of the lectern are connected with wooden dowels which are clearly visible.
 A photo showing that the sides of the lectern are set deeper than the edges.

This photo nicely shows how the board holding the book is fitted between the other boards.

 This clasped front, or hutch-type chest dates from the start of the 15th century and was made around Osnabruck in Westphalen, Germany.  It is made of oak with iron lock and hinges, part of which is missing. The sizes of the chest are 66 x 149 x 55 cm. This photo shows that the sideboards are placed skewed in a groove in the legs of the chest.

 The front of the chest is decorated with Gothic windows ending in stylised leafwork. On the feet of the chest are carved people. On the left a long-bearded man with a sword and book, likely apostle Paul; on the right a praying man on his knees having a short beard.The motifs used for decoration suggest that the chest was used  for personal storage in cloister.

Inside the chest a small lidded side-chest can be found, as usual with medieval chests.

This iron-bound hutch-type chest dates from around 1500 and originates from Westphalen. It is made from oak. The chest measures 96 x 208 x 73 cm. Only the lower parts of the feet are decorated with chip-carving. A photo also showing the lid of the chest from above is found with presentation of the savoranola chair above.

The ends of the iron bands are stylised leaves. 
The bands are crosswise to the grain of the wood, also at the bottom of the chest.


  1. What a great blog! I love the pictures. I look forward to more posts!

  2. I stumbled across the first chest in your photos, and bought it. Unfortunately, it is not in quite as beauteous shape as the one in the museum....but it is intact, and the intarsia is amazing!

    Any idea on value? I purchased it from a fellow that did not have any clue what it was and told me it was 200 years old. I just knew I loved it and had to have it, but now realize I might have found something special!