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Leather panel

Leather panel

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (made)

  • Date:

    1730-40 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embossed and gilded leather

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of Murray Marks

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Leather panels were used to cover walls as an alternative to wooden panelling or textile hangings. Luxurious effects could be achieved with rich colours and highly patterned surfaces. Often the decoration of these hangings echoed the design of other furnishings in a room, and tied together an interior decorative scheme. The gold cartouches and geometric infill of this panel resemble carved decoration found on gilded French furniture made in the same period.

It is uncertain exactly how this panel was made. Traditionally, wet leather was pressed onto a raised wooden mould to create an embossed surface. In 1628, however, a similar process using a heated metal plate was patented in the Netherlands. This technique, which was widely copied, made it possible to produce large numbers of identical, finely detailed panels. Even sharper detail could be achieved on a thin leather, such as calf skin, which was probably used for this panel. Its crisp embossed surface suggests that a metal plate was used in this panel's manufacture.

Although areas of the panel appear to be gilded, the precious metal used to create this effect is actually silver. A thin silver foil was applied to the panel and then coated with a layer of yellow varnish to look like gold leaf.

Physical description

Embossed and painted leather panel, with gilt-effect scrolls and foliage on grounds of light and dark blue, interspersed with white and pink flowers.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (made)


1730-40 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Embossed and gilded leather


Height: 75 cm, Width: 61 cm

Object history note

Given by Murray Marks, 395 Oxford St (with three other leather panels, 1651, 1652, 1653 and 1654-1871), and then attributed as 'Spanish. 17th century'
Wall hanging in the Averbode Abbey (Belg.), dd. 1738. Panels in the Stedelijke Musea, Mechelen (Belg.), inventory number 9; Stedelijke Musea, Leuven (Belg.), inventory numbers unknown.

Descriptive line

Embossed gilt leather panel, decorated with flowers and scrolls on a blue and light-blue ground. The flowers are painted in white and heightened with blue and red, Dutch, ca. 1730-40.

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

J.F. Riano, Catalogue of the art and objects of Spanish production in the South Kensington Museum, London 1872, page 62
John W. Waterer, Spanish Leather, London 1971, plate 52
South Kensington Museum, John Charles Robinson, J. C Robinson, and R. Clay, Sons and Taylor. 1881. Catalogue of the Special Loan Exhibition of Spanish and Portuguese Ornamental Art: South Kensington Museum, 1881. London: Chapman & Hall, p.186


Calf leather


Embossing; Varnishing; Silvering; Painting


Interiors; Leather; Furniture


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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