23 January 2012
The final installment of our design classic series, we explore the must have Gothic classic doll house miniatures from the 12th to 16th century. ...
We are visiting a time when the best furniture available was destined for royalty and the church, and where domestic and religious pieces were often interchangeable. This grand style became so popular between the 12th to 16th centuries that it permeated into other areas of history.
Let's take a look at some of the best of what artisans have to offer in this popular Gothic style.
1. Box Chair
As a symbol of status, the throne-like box chair with its intricate detailing and high back was the focal point of any room. Carving was expensive and the more carved detail and finials on the chair, the higher the rank of person who sat in it. These chairs were built to pass the test of time and often featured the fashionable quatrefoils, tracery and Gothic arches. This chair is from Pear Tree Miniatures. Website: www.peartreeminiatures.co.uk
2. Vestment Chest
Clothing made of fine fabrics and richly decorated with embroidery and jewels needed an equally ornate storage solution. The answer came in the form of the vestment chest to store garments with the minimum of folding and lockable to protect the valuable contents. Carved on the outside, it was often found in the bed chamber in a grand home or in churches to store religious robes. This hand carved chest is by Ann High. Website: www.annhigh.co.uk
3. Church cabinet
As its name suggests, this form of cabinet would most likely be found in a church to store important items, but may also have found its way into the medieval home of those who were wealthy enough to afford it. It came with or without doors, but always featured the complex carving associated with this period. This piece comes from JBM Miniatures. Website: www.jbmminiatures.com
4. Gothic Bench
The Gothic bench is an earlier version of the Tudor settle, and was simply constructed and made of oak. The fact that the finest furnishings were used for castles and churches alike means that the shape of the Gothic bench may now be more commonly recognised as a church pew in design. The bench was for those who could not quite afford a framed box chair, but who were too wealthy to own just a simple bench. This bench has been hand made by Ann High.
5. Mirrored Wall Sconce
Lighting vast castle rooms with small or even no windows was a problem, and ingenious blacksmiths came up with the mirrored wall sconce in answer to this dilemma. It was wall mounted so could shed light at seated or head height and held a torch aloft in a fixed position. The mirror wasn't the ultra-reflective surface we know today, but would have been a hammered piece of metal which was polished to a high shine. This two candle mirrored wall sconce comes from Hobbies. Website: www.alwayshobbies.com
6. Glastonbury Chair
The Glastonbury chair dates from around the 15th century and was made for Glastonbury Abbey from an earlier Italian design. It fell out of fashion for several centuries, but became popular again in the Gothic revival during the Victorian era, particularly in churches. When used in the home it was referred to as a Glastonbury chair, but when used in a religious building it was called a litany desk. This version (above) is made by artisan Angela Downton from Unique Miniatures. Website: www.uniqueminiatures.co.uk
Like many items of furniture at the time, this early ambry had a dual use depending on whether it be housed in a church or a home. In the domestic sphere it was the earliest of kitchen cupboards and was used to store food. The carved design on the front allowed ventilation for the food stored inside and the raised cabinet kept it safe from vermin. When used in a church, it was either wall-mounted to store sacred items or was a storage space for bread for the poor. This delightful version (below) comes from JBM Miniatures.
The dressoir was basically a canopied dresser and was used to display a home's wealth. It was where the best silver and gold would be kept, and was often an expensive item in itself with carved and painted panels. Red and green were the most popular colours for painting furniture; detailing in black, white and yellow have also been used. This beautiful example (above) is by Pear Tree Miniatures.
9. Savonarola Chair
This is another version of the x-chair. The Savonarola, like the Glastonbury chair, has Italian roots and was once used by only the highest ranking members of government. Over time these chairs became more popular because of their portability and Gothic merchants often travelled with this kind of seating. Variations of this style were also known as curule (although these tended to be backless), Dante, Luther and scissor chairs. This version (below) is from JMB Miniatures.
10. High table and Form
The high table was placed in the great hall of a castle and was so called because it was put onto a dias to distinguish the highest ranking members of the nobility from the lesser merchants and officials. Even at this high table, a sense of hierarchy reigned as the elite sat on box-chairs while less important royals might have had a simple chair or a bench known as a form. The high table was used as a dinner table for banquets and as a place for the lord of the house to act as magistrate in local disputes, or for business dealings. This is how the phrase 'turning the tables' came about, as one side of the table top would be used for hte messy business of dining, and the other side for official matters. This table (above) has been made by Ann High.
Other features in this series of classic miniature design are as follows:
- Top Ten Tudor Classics
- Top Ten Regency Classics
- Top Ten Rococo Classics
- Top Ten Georgian Classics
- Victorian Classics Part 1
- Victorian Classics Part 2
- Top Ten Edwardian Classics
- Art Deco Part 1
- Art Deco Part 2
- Wartime Classics
- Modern Design Classics Part 1
- Modern Design Classics Part 2