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  • Place of origin:

    Spain (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1400 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood (probably pine), with polychrome decoration in tempera

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 10a, The Françoise and Georges Selz Gallery, case WS, shelf EXP

This panel formed part of a ceiling of a house in Spain, and would originally have been placed in one of the recesses between large supporting beams which spanned the room. Ceilings with painted beams and flat recesses made up of painted panels were more characteristic of Christian than Moorish buildings in the period between 1300 and 1500, but the decoration of this particular panel nevertheless shows signs of Islamic influence, which survived in Spain until well after 1500 .

Physical description

Rectangular panel (probably pine), painted in tempera with two rampant white griffins facing each other, standing above a white symmetrical, islamic foliate device, with a black kernel and yellow outer husk, with yellow scrolls and rosettes on a red background, framed by a black outer and a white inner border.

Place of Origin

Spain (painted)


ca. 1400 (painted)



Materials and Techniques

Wood (probably pine), with polychrome decoration in tempera


Height: 15.7 cm, Width: 29.3 cm, Depth: 2 cm

Object history note

Bought with nine other panels (Museum Nos: 207 to 216 - 1894) from M. Stanislas Baron, Rue Grange-Batelière 28 (Paris) for £0. 8s.
"Panel from a wooden ceiling, painted in yellow, white and black tempera colours on a red ground with two griffins rampant and vis-à –vis, separated by a symmetrical floral device. Painted by Moorish artists for the Spaniards. Hispano-Moresque; 15th century"

Historical significance: Ceilings with painted beams and panels are more often associated with Christian Spain, and this included Catalonia, whose coats of arms are emblazoned on No. 216-1894 of this set. Nevertheless, this panel is an interesting example of Middle Eastern influences, particularly noticeable in the large Islamic floral device placed between the two opposing griffins. Although somewhat crudely executed, it is a good example of the Islamic style of decoration found in interiors of houses even in the predominantly Christian parts of Spain.

Historical context note

Ceilings in Christian Spain, during the Middle ages, were often supported by large, decoratively painted beams with painted panels like this example recessed between them. Examples include the ceiling over the cloister walk of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos, south of Burgos, and the one over the Chapel of Santa Agüeda in Barcelona. Just as complex geometrical ceilings, supported by box-core pendants and inscribed with Arabic calligraphy, were an example of buildings belonging to Moors, those with painted beams and panels were more often owned by Christians, and found in to larger rooms, such as banqueting halls.

Descriptive line

Panel of wood (probably pine) painted in polychrome tempera, with a griffin amongst scrolls and flowers; Spain, ca. 1400

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

Arthur Byne and Mildred Stapley: Decorated wooden ceilings in Spain. (New York and London, G.P.Putnam & Sons, 1920).


Pine; Paint; Tempera


Painted; Planed; Sawing

Subjects depicted

Griffin; Leaf scroll; Floral pattern


Architectural fittings


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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