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Footwarmer

Footwarmer

  • Place of origin:

    Holland (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Openwork carved oak

  • Museum number:

    592-1906

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, room 7, case CA16

Foot warmers were perforated boxes mostly heated by hot coals and widely used in Northern European countries such as Holland, Scandanavia and the British Isles during the 17th and 18th centuries. These items would have been regarded as a necessity particularly in damp, poorly-heated houses with stone or brick floors, but would have only been found in prosperous middle-class homes. They would have been the responsibility of the woman of the house, as was maintaining the warmth, light and comfort of the home. In order to spread the heat, they needed perforated sides, which made for elaborate carving. The carving might commemorate family ties, religious beliefs or national preoccupations. When not used, foot warmers would be hung from a ceiling beam, which explains why the base was often as elaborately carved as the other sides.

Physical description

Footwarmer of carved oak with brass drop handles, carved in openwork on the top and on the end of the four sides with a bird amid foliage, with borders of scrollwork and leaf ornament; one side slides upwards and serves as a shutter.

Place of Origin

Holland (made)

Date

ca. 1650 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Openwork carved oak

Dimensions

Height: 125 mm, Width: 215 mm, Depth: 179 mm

Object history note

This footwarmer was acquired from Mr Martin Klop, an antique dealer in the Hague, in 1906. It was described as a "carved and pierced oak foot-warmer - very characteristic Dutch carving of the 17th century".

Historical context note

Footwarmers were a miniature form of brazier. They consisted of a pierced wooden or metal box housing an earthenware container for burning charcoal embers and were in use from Roman to Edwardian times. As carpets were expensive, a footwarmer would be used to prevent the loss of heat from cold stone floors.

Descriptive line

Footwarmer of carved oak with brass drop handles, Dutch 1600-1700

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Thornton, Peter. Authentic Decor: the Domestic Interior 1620-1920. London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1984. 408 p.
A footwarmer features in the image of a Dutch bedchamber from the 1660s, plate 51 on page 47.

Labels and date

Foot-warmer
1600-1700

Foot-warmers like this were used in prosperous households. Heat radiated through holes at the top when an earthenware bowl filled with hot coals was placed inside. A Dutch book published in 1614 described foot-warmers as ‘a favourite of women’. When not in use, they were hung from the ceiling beams.

Dutch Republic, now the Netherlands

Oak; copper alloy handle [09.12.2015]

Materials

Brass; Oak

Techniques

Carving; Joining; Openwork

Subjects depicted

Birds

Categories

Woodwork; Household objects

Collection code

FWK

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