Footwarmer thumbnail 1
Footwarmer thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 7, The Sheikha Amna Bint Mohammed Al Thani Gallery

Footwarmer

ca. 1650 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Openwork carved oak
Brief Description
Footwarmer of carved oak with brass drop handles, Dutch 1600-1700
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.
Dimensions
  • Height: 125mm
  • Width: 215mm
  • Depth: 179mm
When acquired by this museum in 1906, its measurements were as follows: H 5 5/8 inches; Length 6 7/8 inches; Width 6 3/8 inches
Gallery Label
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)
Object history
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".



Purchased for £2.9s.9d. from Messrs. Martin Klop & Co., 32 Hooge Nieuwstraat, The Hague. (No further information recorded in V&A registry.)
Historical context
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.
Subject depicted
Summary
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.

Bibliographic Reference
Thornton, Peter. Authentic Decor: the Domestic Interior 1620-1920. London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1984. 408 p.
Collection
Accession Number
592-1906

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record createdNovember 15, 2005
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