Wednesday, 28 December 2016

An octagonal medieval folding table at the Musee de Cluny

The foldable table from the Musee the Cluny, Paris. Cl.22795. Photo from internet.

The Musee National du Moyen Age also known as Musee de Cluny in Paris, France does contain an elaborately carved medieval folding table. While photos from the side are easily found on internet, photos with details of the construction are not. We were at the museum in April and able to take some photos of this medieval table. What we noticed was that the table was very worn - it had suffered much during the more than 500 years of its life. The oak was also very darkly coloured, much more than visible on 'regular' photos. As the room in which the table stood was also sparsely lit, it was difficult to take good photos. Nevertheless, they will show some additional information on the folding table. 

The octagonal table top consists of three boards. These were fixed together with loose tenons that were pinned. You can see the pins for the tenons on the photo.

The table is dates from the last quarter of the 15th century, first quarter of the 16th century. It has a height of 75 cm. The width of the table top is 90.5 cm, while the width at the bottom is 79 cm. The table was made in France. When taken apart the table consist of five numbered parts (two feet, two panels and one table top) and four pins to attach the table top to the pedestal. The board of the tabletop are fixed together with a loose tenons that are fixed with two pins at each side of the tenon

Most of the openwork tracery is missing parts. Unlike the scapradekijn for Castle Muiderslot and the rood screen, these panels are carved at both sides as both sides are visible. The panels were also constructed of several parts as can be seen by the lines on the photos. 

This photo shows how the tabletop is connected to the pedestal panels. 
There is one such construction in each quarter of the table.

The ornamented end of the pedestal panels.

The feet was carved but the elements have mostly disappeared. Likely these have been animals, 
such as lions, dogs or dragons that are often found on late 15th century furniture.

It is hard to figure out what this worn piece would have looked like.

This remarkable photo is from the 'Mobilier domestique vol. 1. Vocabulaire - typologique' by Nicole de Reynies (ISBN 2-85822-461-7) and shows the table with its different parts in a semi-detached way.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Outstanding! Any indication how the lower section (legs) come apart and are still solid when assembled?

    1. I assume this is a simple cross lap joint.

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  3. Thanks for posting this, i have known about this table for years and always wondered how it "folded" now i see that it really does not, but rather disassembles. Thanks for posting these pictures!