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Leather panel

Leather panel

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (made)

  • Date:

    1650-1670 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embossed and gilded leather

  • Credit Line:

    Given by 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 densely textured naturalistic fruit and flowers of this panel are similar to textile designs of the 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 swags of gilt-effect fruit and flowers interspersed with cherubs and butterflies on a pale blue ground.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (made)


1650-1670 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Embossed and gilded leather

Marks and inscriptions

Canvas-print on the back.


Height: 73.5 cm, Width: 69 cm

Object history note

Of this pattern exist a mirrored version.

Wall hanging in the church of Kartuzy (Poland); private collection Holland (dd.1668-1686). Panels in the Deutsches Tapetenmuseum, Kassel, inventory number 68/68; Deutsches Ledermuseum, Offenbach am Main, inventory number 2389; Historisches Museum, Frankfurt, inventory number unknown; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inventory numbers RBK 18243, 18267 and 1935-1-381; Stedelijk Museum 'Het Vleeshuis', Antwerp, inventory number 29A8; coll. Colomer-Munmany, inventory number C1414. Altar frontals in the Diozesan Museum, Plock; Museum Naradow, Warsaw; the churches of Nowy Stag and Torun (all Poland).

Descriptive line

Embossed gilt leather panel, with gilt fruit, flowers, a bird and three putti on a pearl-grey coloured ground, Dutch, ca. 1650-1670.

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 61
Henri Clouzot, Geschmückte Lederarbeiten, Berlin ny (=Cuirs Décorés, Paris 1925), Volume II, plate XXXII
John W. Waterer, Spanish Leather, London 1971, page 52, plate 37
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


Wall coverings; Leather; Interiors


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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