Sunday, 23 July 2017

Medieval furniture at Saumur castle

Left: Saumur castle in September 1440 from Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, (musée Condé, Ms.65, folio 9v). Right: Saumur castle in July 2017.

Saumur castle has been immortalized by the illumination of the month September in the 'Tres Riches Heures de Duc du Berry'  (around 1440), likely by Barthemeus van Eyck. The castle mostly has remained the same on the outside as the 14th century illumination, though having less fancy pinnacles now. The castle was rebuild in 1367 by Louis I of Anjou, grandson of Philip VI, who had the old round towers replaced by octagonal ones. The comfort of the castle was further improved by Count Rene of Anjou, known as the good King Rene, who called it the 'château d'amour'. In the 16th century, the Italian Bartolomeo added bastions and star-shaped curtain walls to the castle. The castle now houses a small 'Musee des arts decoratifs', which has some medieval furniture - several chests as well as an armoire.

The armoire dates from the end of the 15th century and is made from oak. It originates from France. The armoire has two sets of double doors each with their own lock. Inv. No. 919.13.2.5.
Left: The front of the armoire has four rows of linenfold panels, while the sides have three rows of linenfold panels. 
Right: Detail of the door hinge.

 The linenfold patterns end in hearts and clovers.

A simple oak chest with linenfold panels dating from the end of the 15th century or early 16th century. Originates from France. Inv. No 2001.2.1. The right triangular support for the leg is missing.

Left: The side of the chest has two panels. 
Right: The hinges for the lid are on the inside, while that for the lock is on the outside of the lid. 

Left: A supportive rail is connected to the lid with wooden dowels and iron nails. 
Right: The underside of the chest has one supportive rail in the middle.

Another overview of the chest.

Oak chest with small linenfold panels dating from the 15th century. Originates from France. Inv. No. 919.13.4.3. 
The lid has a different patina, and probably is a replacement.

The lock is fitted with three decorated iron clamps to the chest.

The sides of the chest.

A decorated oak chest dating from the 15th century from France. Inv. No 906.0.851. The chest is constructed with dovetails resulting in a legless bottom. The chest therefore has to rest on a separate frame, in this case a modern one.  

The lock seems to be replaced as there is a repair behind it and the lock hinge is missing as well. 

Left: The chest is connected by dovetails, but also reinforced by iron corner brackets. Right: The lid is newer that the rest of the chest, which also explains the missing lock hinge.

A richly carved chest with the arms of France and Brittany on it. It dates from the 15th century from France and is made from walnut. The chest has its original frame, which is also decorated. Inv. No. 906.0.850. The lid is also a replacement here.

The carved rose and tracery patterns are all different.

Left: There is only a bracket at the top of the chest corner. The dovetails are well visible. 
 Right: The most right carved panel is a lion.

Left: The lock is decorated as well, the lock hinge is missing. Right: The side of the chest is very plain. 
Iron corner brackets are on the front and the back of the chest, as well as on the chest frame.


  1. Nice, thanks for sharing.

    Most probably, the iron corner braces, as in so many (but certainly not all) medieval chests are later additions used to reinforce the piece as it began to get old and loose from lots of journeying about. In like manner, many chests also have additional locks which were not original to their construction. It may surprise many people, but there is a good probability that the carved walnut chest was partially painted and gilded as was done with much woodwork that one finds in churches of this period.

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