Wednesday 23 June 2021

A tresoor for castle Hernen: part 2 - the backside panels

At the moment much of the front and back panels are carved. This post will consider the construction of the backside of the tresoor and its panels.

The visible parts: linenfold patterns

For the visible, lower panels on the backside of the tresoor we wanted to have a linenfold pattern. First we considered several pattern options (see below), before finally settling with the pattern found on a 15th century armoire in the Gruuthuuse Museum in Bruges, Belgium.

(Left) Linenfold panel made around 1500-1600 in England. Oak panel carved with linenfold pattern; with a central deep fold, and two lateral folds reversed, and the ends carved without additional ornament. Height: 38.7 cm; Width: 16.2 cm;  Depth: 1.3 cm; Weight: 0.34 kg. V&A South Kensington, London, UK, museum number 156-1928. They were presumably items from stock, and no further information about them is recorded in the item correspondence.
(Middle) Flemish linenfold panel dated late 15th century. One of 96 pieces of Gothic architectural decoration, chiefly of oak, consisting of panels, friezes, pilasters, etc., museum number 8148-1863, average dimensions 20" x 12". The piece was collected by Pugin and used as model by the Thames Bank Workshops for the construction of the new Palace of Westminster. Height 22 5/8 inch; width 7 3/8 inch.
(Right) Linenfold panel from a four-door armoire from the Gruuthuuse museum in Bruges, Belgium. ca 1500, oak. 

The complete four-door armoire from the Gruuthuuse museum. oak 167,5 width x 161 height x 55,5 cm depth. Inv. 0.8.VII.

 Drawings of front and cross-section of the three panels: VA CIRC 156-1928, VA  8148-1863 and Gruuthuuse armoire
First the panels were cut to the the correct size and the side rabbets were planed with a rabbet plane (Stanley 78 or a wooden one) / shoulder plane (for the finishing tough). The end rabbets were cut and planed later, after the linenfolds were made. The linenfolds themselves were first planed with a round moulding plane (1/8'' or 1/4'' depending of the width of the fold) set against a wooden fence. If the initial depth of the fold was reached, carving gouges and custom made scrapers were used to create and smoothe the final form. Custom scrapers were either used by hand or in a scratch stock, where the exact position could be set.
Roughly cutting the small strip of the custom scraper with a Dremel grinding wheel. 
In short, the custom scrapers were made as follows: first a small strip was cut from a standard scraping blade. The the rough form was cut with a wheel grinder (Dremel tool), which was in turn roughly smoothed with a round or flat file. Then, a belt sander with a 180 grit belt was used for further smoothing. This was followed by diamond whetting stones (250 to 1200) where a square wooden block was used to stabilise the custom scraper in order to get a square edge on the scraper. Also the flat sides of the scraper were whetted to remove any burrs on the metal.

The three custom scrapers with six funtions:a half-round ('knife-shape') with a small hollow scraper, a round scraper with a bit larger hollow scraper, and a bit larger round with a double hollow scraper (for the middle of the panel).
Left: Bram working on a linenfold panel with the scraping stock. (Right) A custom scraper in the scraping stock.

Smoothing the rounds with a hollow custom scraper set in the scratch stock.
After the long parts of the linenfold were ready, the end rabbets were made. First a groove was cut with a circular saw (marking the boundary), and the end rabbet cleared with a chisel and smoothed with a shoulder plane. Then the outline of the end of the linenfolds was marked with a pencil on the panel with help of a carton. The end of the folds were then cut out with different sized gouges. Especially the fish-tailed Pfeil gouges were of great help here.

Carving the ends of the linenfold.
When the front size of the panel was ready, the backside needed to be chamfered in order to fit in the (12 mm) groove of the frame. Chamfering was done with a fore plane and a wide round plane (1 1/2''). 

(Left) Four panels with the carton of the linenfold end in front. (Right) The 12 mm test groove for the chamfering of the backside of the panels.
(Left) Fitting the panels in the frame. (Right) Linenfold in various stages of finishing at the frame. The unfinished panels are just duct-taped behind the frame, as they did not have their chamfered back.

The hidden parts: plain panels 

Some leftover pieces of oak were used for the panels that were hidden from sight. One panel was from a broken oak table top which turned out to be beautifully patterned with flecks and rays. Actually, it  was too nice for a part that is seldom visible, but alas these things happen. Another board was sawn lengthwise in half to form two panel pieces. The panels were thinned to 1 cm with a planer-thicknesser and chamfered  on the ends with a fore plane. Where the panels connected to each other a V-groove was made on a router table, and the corresponding V-point with a small handplane, a construction similar to that of the scapradekijn for Muiderslot castle. Also the middle part contained one large horizontal panel. 

With all back panels finished, the complete backside of the tresoor was constructed.

Left: Construction started with the middle linenfold panels, and continued with the outer linefold panels, the middle panel and the top back panels. (Right) Help with some clamps was needed to fit the vertical stile.

The complete backside

Saturday 15 May 2021

Pilgrimage 21

We read about the project Pilgrimage21 of the Company of Saint George, the famous Swiss 15th century re-enactment group and thought this would be a marvellous idea to do some medieval re-enactment during corona times. Worldwide medieval re-enactment groups were encouraged to go on pilgrimage journeys to their local/nearby pilgrimage shrines on the feast of Saint Corona (14 May) and the weekend afterwards (15 and 16 May 2021). Photos and Videos of the preparation and the actual pilgrimage were to be shared on Facebook (CoStG: project Pilgrimage21) and Instagram (#Pilgrimage21).

Saint Corona

St. Corona happened to be a useful saint for the woodworkers as well, being the patron for lumberjacks (as well as with causes involving money, like gambling and treasure hunting). It happened that the lady Corona was martyred because she comforted (Saint) Victor, a Roman soldier who was tortured and killed for his faith. According to the passio of Corona, Corona was bound to two bent palm trees and torn apart as the trunks were released. This supposedly happened around 180 AD, but there is no clear consensus on the date. Around 1000 AD Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor brought Corona's relics to Aachen in western Germany. Her relics were rediscovered during excavation work at Aachen Cathedral in 1910. The relics were removed from a crypt and placed in a shrine inside the cathedral.

Illuminated miniature of the martyrdom of Saints Victor and Corona, on a full leaf from a Book of Hours, France (Paris), c. 1480.





Maria of Redichem

We were lucky to have several medieval pilgrimage places nearby: Saint Cunera in Rhenen and Maria of Redichem in Renkum, and somewhat further away the Chapel of Saint Walrick (with the koortsboom)  in Overasselt. We decided to go to the church of Maria in Renkun, as the pilgrimage route is the most beautiful to walk - not much asphalt roads - and conviently was the closest and shortest route. Furthermore, the church is open every day from 9 am to 4 pm, and has a nice rosegarden with a walk along displayed icons.


 The statue of Maria of Redichem, dated 1350.

Redichem (or Renkum) is a pilgrims place since 1380 thanks to the statue of Maria in a chapel to which miracle cures were attributed to. The French king Charles VI donated two relics to the chapel: a splinter from the True Cross and a thorn from the Crown of Christ. The chapel also played an important role in the life of Maria of Guelders (Marie d'Harcourt), wife of duke Reinald IV of Guelders. In 1405 she founded a convent for the sisters of Modern Devotion at the place of the chapel. The duke ordered one of the brooks (Molenbeek) to be redirected so the nuns would have a fresh water supply. Maria of Guelders frequently visited the place, for instance in 1407 together with several French courtiers.

In 1585 the convent was destroyed, but some nuns were able to keep the statue of Maria into safety. Then the statue changed hands regularly, until one collector returned it to Renkum in 1928. Now it can be found in the 'Our Lady of the Assumption' church. An embroidered cushion from 1390 that used to reside in the convent is now in the depot of the museum Catherijneconvent in Utrecht. The cushion depicts the Dedication in the temple (Luc.2:22-39).

With silk embroidered linen cushion from the Redichem convent. ABM t2060 Catherijne convent, Utrecht. 57.0 by 71 cm. These cushions were used to place (religious) books upon.


Thomasguild's Pilgrimage21 to Maria of Redichem


Detail of the Pilgrimage21 Map with Maria of Redichem indicated by the arrow.

The end of the Pilgrimage at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Renkum. 

Monday 19 April 2021

Some more engravings of late medieval Tiroler furniture

In this post I would like to show some more furniture pieces from the plates in the books 'Die Zimmergotik in Deutsch Tirol' by Franz Paukert. As previously mentioned, due to my scanner size limit each plate consists of two scans that are 'glued' together.

The bench (with turnable backrest) and the chest, two works of Tyrolean joinery that are already being sought out of the country, are shown with the use of  dimensional sketches and photographs made available to the publisher by Mr. Ueberbacher from Bolzano, Italy.

Canopy bed from the Castello Principesco, or Landfurstliche Burg, Merano, Italy.

These two folding chairs are in the Figdor collection in Vienna. One of them (Figure A), coming from Bozen, shows the old, quilted leather seat belt and its shape is reminiscent of the faldistorium of the women's monastery on the Nonnberg near Salzburg. The armchair of Figure B, like the previous one, has crossed legs but with partially suspected monkey- and crab-like knobs and comes from St. Michael in Eppau. (The Figdor collection was auctioned in the early 20th century; the auction catalogues can still be found in second hand book stores)


On the other hand, the design of this cabinet does not differ insignificantly from the usual furniture shapes. The straight end of the upper frieze, the framing of the door wing and the somewhat clumsy ornamentation characterize the piece as a late form of medieval art. 

Cabinet in the possession of  Mr. J. Strasser in Merano. In terms of its origin, this piece of furniture is one of the few surviving pieces of its kind. A real Tyrolean work and despite its relatively later origins unaffected by the imitation of architectural details that are so popular elsewhere, it is evidence of the fact that the Tyrolean carpentry did not tend to indulge in miniature replicas of the facade construction, but rather focused on healthy construction, and flat cuts, engraving, tracery carved into the wooden base and moderate painting are the only means to which this cabinet owes its very handsome appearance. The upper and lower parts of the cabinet are firmly connected, and the sides are completely smooth. Metal bars never seem to have been there at the door. Merano, Italy.


Noteworthy is the simplest possible treatment of the tracery fillings in the wash basin: flat cuts with a coloured background, as well as the extremely simple construction of the box, which is common to almost all of this type of Tyrolean Gothic furniture; Jointed boxes with decorative strips placed in front of them on jointed feet and finally the almost continuous painting of the ornaments or at least the flat base of the carved parts. Castello Principesco, or Landfurstliche Burg, Merano, Italy. 


A chest owned by the bookstore owner F. Plant in Merano. In spite of its extremely simple structure and in spite of its decoration reminiscent of the Romanesque period, it was found to be of a rather late origin and proof that the Tyrolean gothic art did not reluctantly fall back on very early roots. The lid of the cest is not connected to the other part of the chest by iron hinges, but by wooden pegs which function as axes of rotation, and go through the lateral gripping strips and the sides of the chest.

Among the increase in the number of furniture pieces of the Landfurstliche Burg in Merano over the last few years, the furniture shown in whole or in part on the plates above and below is the most important. The legs of the chests belong to the box, which differs little from the already known pieces of a similar kind and only in the ornaments and the exposition of the fields on the front.


Monday 5 April 2021

A late medieval woodwork book

Recently I bought an antique set of seven 'books' on 'Die Zimmergotik in Deutsch Tirol [late medieval woodwork in Tirol] by Franz Paukert. They were published between 1890 to 1903 and contain many superb engravings on the late medieval woodwork and furniture from Italian and Austrian Tirol. Each of the books contain 32 engraved plates of around A3 size and a similar sized booklet of a few pages containing the descriptions. The engravings are printed in a reddish-brown colour, black, and even some are printed in green ink. My set of books is not complete, a few plates are missing, and some others are damaged, but this caused the lot to be at an affordable price. What makes this book so interesting is that the engravings are very detailed, some engravings focus even on details of the construction. Furthermore, the engravings show a rule, so you actually have the dimensions of the woodwork.

 The seven books contain 32 loose printed engravings and a thin booklet with the descriptions.

Though many plates show furniture pieces, most of the plates concern other carved woodwork, like doors, wooden panelling, ceilings, etc. Also the ironwork on the woodwork is focussed on several plates: hinges, locks, door knockers. Also a few designs of medieval wall drawings are shown. To give you an idea of the furniture included in the book, some of the plates are given below with their original (translated) comments.  As my scanner has an A4 limit, each plate consists of two scans are 'glued' together.

Folding chairs from Campan Castle (Bressanone, Italy) and Bolzano (Italy). Movable gothic seating has hardly come across us in Tyrol. The depicted examples present a form that has hardly been used at least in the German part of the country. Its form has been borrowed from the late Gothic stock of Italian decorative art. Both armchairs are made of beech wood and almost only differ from one another in the cross-section of the ribs.

Despite the extremely heavy shapes, this object is not uninteresting because of its structure. The basic ornaments of the crenellated canopy are very lively in the drawing and emphasized in colour. Burg Reifenstein, Campo di Trens, Italy.

The whole lattice, consisting of four rectangular parts with a common pointed arch, is mainly formed of openwork tracery. The fillings are red, yellow or blue, while the carved frames are painted green. Burg Reifenstein, Campo di Trens, Italy.

Tratzberg also conveyed a gothic light woman - a unique item for this country - to the present. The engravings reproduce the colour-coded model in front and side views to such an extent that the composition clearly can be recognized. Schloss Tratzberg, Jenbach, Austria.

In this piece we encounter a very attractive achievement of gothic small art. The wood of the stone pine, which is used almost everywhere in Tyrol, served as material for the work. The background of the freely treated ornaments as well as that underlaid with the tracery fillings is blue. All of the rods of the epiglottis resemble cords made of dark and light wires. It's just a shame that the work suffered more than it gained from a restoration that was carried out decades ago. A newer, much too low base and completely nonsensical, admittedly neglected elements on the crenellated wreath today spoil the impression of the whole cabinet.

Chair from Tirol castle near Merano (Italy). In his art history of Tyrol and Vorarlberg, Atz describes this piece of furniture as one of the oldest chairs in the country. At present, the chair shown has a praying desk in front, which, on closer inspection, reveals itself to be a new addition. The ornament on the rear wall of the chair is engraved, the decoration on the crown is flat-cut. The two side walls show different contours. The only thing to note about the construction of the furniture, which can be seen in full from the drawing, is that the seat can be uplifted.

The table comes from Burgeis in the upper Vintschgau and has only recently been found in the collection of the Merano Museum Association, along with several wood carvings and carpentry work of religious origin. It is well preserved and only supplemented in some places. 

Chest from the collection of the antiquarian Alois Ueberbacher in Bolzano, Italy. The chest is of particular interest, taken from the daily changing material of its owner: the one due to the charm of the varied decoration, this one due to the way the tracery is treated. 

Of what the Fugger room holds in the form of movable household items, one is easily identified as a cabinet holding a wash basin.Schloss Trazberg, Jenbach, Austria.