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Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Spain (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1400 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood (probably pine), with polychrome decoration in tempera

  • Museum number:

    210-1894

  • 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 Catalonia, 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, although predominantly Gothic, nevertheless shows signs of Islamic influence, and this survived in Spain until well after 1600.

Physical description

Rectangular pine panel, painted with three-quarter views of queens looking towards each other and spearated by an 'S' Scroll, terminating in flowers at both ends. The heads are painted with flesh tones and fair hair, covered with gold crowns, placed on a back ground, framed with a yellow outer and red inner border. Behind the figures are a series of yellow moresques with red outlines.

Place of Origin

Spain (painted)

Date

ca. 1400 (painted)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Wood (probably pine), with polychrome decoration in tempera

Dimensions

Height: 15.5 cm, Width: 29.7 cm, Depth: 1.5 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 black, red, with a yellow tempera colours on a black ground with the busts of two queens, separated by an S-shaped scroll ending in conventional flowers. 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. The main motifs of the panel, the queens' heads, are Christian but the treatment of their features, particularly their large eyes, and the moresques in the background denote Islamic influence. Although somewhat crudely executed, this panel 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) with polychrome decoration in tempera of a queen, among 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).
V & A Nominal File (MA/1/B494)

Subjects depicted

Queens

Categories

Architectural fittings

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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