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Leather panel

  • Place of origin:

    Flanders (possibly, made)
    Spain (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1760-80 (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 delicate scrolling stems and naturalistic flowers of this panel are similar to early 18th century textile designs, while the basketweave texture of the background resembles carved decoration found on gilded French furniture of 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 trailing stems of blue cornflowers and unidentified blue and red flowers on a diaper patterned gold ground.

Place of Origin

Flanders (possibly, made)
Spain (possibly, made)


1760-80 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Embossed and gilded leather


Height: 55 cm, Width: 76 cm

Object history note

Given by Murray Marks 'Panel for furniture. Leather, stamped with gilt basket work ground, and painted with flowers in green and other colours. Spanish 17th century'

On the inside of the wooden back panel of the 19th c. frame (removed) was the stamp in ink 'Holland & Sons, 23 Mount Street, London'. Holland and Sons, cabinet makers & etc.' founded in 1815 as 'Tapwell & Holland', based on 23, Mount Street in the years 1852-between 1886/1902). For this firm see the Furniture History Society Journal, vol. VI (1970) p. 54.

Wall hangings in the house 3, Spiegelrei, Bruges (Belg.); Castle Grimbergen, Humbeek (Belg.); the 'Pietershof', Hoorn (Neth.), 1768; townhall, 's-Hertogenbosch (Neth., 1764. Panels in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Neth.), inventory number RBK 18275; Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, inventory number 1908-12-25; Gruuthuze Museum, Bruges, inventory number 136097B; Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis, Brussels, inventory number 5345/9

Descriptive line

Gilt leather panel, with a painted pattern, which shows a gilt basketwork group with blue and red flowers shaded with lighter blues, and green foliage, Flanders or Spain, ca. 1760-80.

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, Leather Craftmanship, London 1967, plate 77

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


Varnishing; Silvering; Embossing; Painting; Gilding


Wall coverings; Interiors; Leather; Containers; Woodwork; Medieval and renaissance; Hispanic Leather


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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