Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The faldistorium in the MAK in Vienna

The faldistorium from the Stift Admont dating from the early 13th century in the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst in Vienna was a real revisit for me. I did visit the museum some 10 years ago. At that time photography was not allowed, and I had only some notes made on paper and a few blurry photos send by the MAK staff (this year I received some excellent photos from them that helped me finish my sella curulis). Now, I went on Tuesday evening, when access is free to the museum.

The glass cage has been 'shopped' away. Nowadays you can only see the front and sides of the folding chair. The chair is painted in red, green, white, yellow-gold and black colours.

The MAK has been refurbished recently, and most of the old displays have moved to new compositions or went to the depot (e.g. the painted medieval table made from cherry and the 15th century folding chair). I had to adjust to the new, more modern design, focus of the museum. The faldistorium had moved from the ground floor to the MAK Design Labor(atory) in the basement, to a long row of chairs; the only being one locked in a plexiglas cage and behind a laser-guided alarm. However, this time photography was allowed.  I took the opportunity to make a many photos of my favourite folding chair, and did set off the alarm three times in the process ...


The Admont faldistorium used to have four lions heads, representing the might of Christ. As one leg is a replacement, there are only three original lions heads left. Each lion is different as can be seen by the beak, snout and the curly hair at the back. 


 At the feet were four (now three) dragon or snake's heads, representing the devil who is defeated by the lions of Christ. The curse to the snake in the Old Testament  (Genesis) 'You shall eat dust the rest of your life' also becomes a symbolic reality in the folding chair. No wonder the dragons look angry. The photos also show the mortise for the lower rail between the two X legs.

The upper rail fastening can be seen here. The tenon goes completely through the mortise and has two wedges set to fix it. Furthermore, a pin is put though the tenon (seen on the lower rail).

The X is fastened with an iron bolt, and also iron reinforcements on the back of the rail. At least the front disk is not original, the original is hidden behind the disk. I wonder what decoration was shown on it.

This lower rail is a later addition from the 15th century. It shows the arms of the Stift Admont (the red and white diamonds) and that of the abbot Johann von Trautmannsdorf (1466-1481) (the red/white flower) between the emblems of a griffon, eagle, lion and pelican. Next to the pelican you can see on the leg the pin that goes through the tenon. 

The other lower rail is plain and a replacement.

Different types of floral patterns are found on different parts of the legs. Tiny white flowers only appear most of the sides, while the green foliage is mainly found on the front of the legs. The backs of the legs are undecorated.

I only found out that this leg was made in three parts (or was broken and then fixed). Here you can see the halving joint on the lower part of the leg - and the beautiful floral carving patterns.

Also here a 'break' line can be seen on the upper part of the same leg.

This more or less sums up where the 'breaks' in the leg are found. Also the replacement leg is shown.  

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