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.

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