Sunday 22 October 2023

A visit to Museum Mayer van den Berg, Antwerp

This autumn, I visited the Museum Mayer van den Berg in Antwerp, Belgium. It is a small museum that houses the private art collection of Fritz Mayer van den Berg (1858-1901). The collection consists of mainly of medieval art, among them several paintings by Brueghel, but also some furniture pieces. Fritz Mayer van den Berg. The museum looks like a late medieval building from the outside, but is in fact a newly made neogothic construction, but quite fitting for the collection. The emphasis of the museum is on medieval paintings, but as said also some furniture can be found, alas with very scanty information.

A 15th century bench with a high back and a chest beneath the seating.

The lid of the seating chest.

The very simple lockplate.

Linenfold panel on the front of the 'benchchest'.

Linenfold panel of the backrest of the bench.

Linenfold panel of the armrest of the bench.

Decoration at the top of the backrest of the bench.

A 16th century armoire. The X-panels are a typically Flemish design of that time.

Top door of the armoire with a carving with animals and grapevines. The carving is made from one oak block, not a panel in a frame.

The carving of the middle stile.

Detail of the top door.

Drawer of the armoire with a grapevine decoration.

The bottom door only has and X-decoration.

An X-panel at the bottom of the armoire.

The top of the armoire.

The side of the armoire only has linenfold carved panels.

The profile of the crown of the armoire.

A linenfold panel from the side of the armoire.

An oaken decorated mantlepiece of a fireplace.

Three circular carvings from the front of the mantlepiece.

The side and the front are connected with large dovetails. Note the thickness of the wood used for the mantlepiece.

Details from the painting 'Boerengezelschap bij de haard' (Farmers at the fireplace) by Pieter Aertsen, ca 1556. On the painting there are two triangular turned chairs depicted. Note that the bottom horizontal rails all are set at a different height in the vertical rail.

Also Pieter Brueghel Sr. depicted some triangular chairs. Here one of the collection of 12 painted plates, one of them showing a drunk between two chairs, 'Int slampampen en mocht my niemant verrasschen, al quyt, sit ick tusschen twee stoelen in dasschen'.

As well as Pieter Bruegher Jr.. Here a detail from the 'Volkstelling te Bethlehem'  (start of the 17th century).

A 15th-early 16th century chair with a high backrest.

The top panels are of the X-design.

While the bottom panels have a linenfold pattern. 

The seating is also a lid of a chest. The hinges (and the lock) are hidden with this chair.

The side of the chair with the decorated vertical rails.

An elegant  late 15th century small square stool (or side table).

Providing a look from beneath the stool. 

A mini-linenfold is directly below the table top.

The centre rail connecting the two sides looks triangular, not square.

A small oaken chest dating from 1500.

A simple lockplate on the chest.

The lid uses a wooden dowel as a hinge. The construction of the chest is very simple: just some boards nailed flat against each other. Also the handle to carry the chest is crude and simple. 

Side view of the chest. Note that the chests stands on 'Kufen' - a horizontal rail, commonly used in the German regions.

This is a bit strange piece of furniture. It looks like it has some kind of folding table top which can also be locked. There are no doors on the front or sides. Presumably this is a kind of writing table or 'kontoir'.

Detail of the front panel.