Cupboard thumbnail 1
Cupboard thumbnail 2
+7
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Furniture, Room 135, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Cupboard

1776 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This cupboard is part of a wider group of painted farm furniture made in southern Germany, Tyrol and upper Austria in the second half of the 18th century. The cupboard would have been built and painted in a single local workshop. It was probably made for a particular household, to commemorate an event such as a marriage or birth. The cupboard’s rich decorative combination of painted flowers, riders on horseback and imitations of marble, wood veneer and boulle marquetry is typical of the farm furniture produced in this area at the end of the 18th century.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 4 parts.

  • Cupboard
  • Key
  • Foot
  • Foot
Materials and Techniques
Pine, joined and painted, with turned balusters and bun feet.
Brief Description
Painted pinewood with canted corners, turned split balusters and bun feet; Upper Austrian; dated 1776
Physical Description
Painted pine two-door cupboard with canted corners, turned split balusters and bun feet.



The main carcase is made in two C-shaped halves - one full-height side and half of each top board and bottom board, dovetailed together (sides slide into top and bottom). Then one half of each top board and bottom board is joined by tongue-and-groove to the other half, or possibly they are joined together by a loose tongue (this is the present arrangement in the bottom board, but this may be a repair; at the top the arrangement is not easy to see). At the bottom there is also a front-to-back board underneath, straddling the joint, which is dowelled at many points to both bottom boards. Then the top and bottom rails and the back board are dowelled in place, and the mouldings are dowelled over these. A curious feature of the top and bottom, not readily explained, is a shallow groove in the top face of the bottom board, and underside of the top board, into each of which a large bracket has been slid from the back. Each bracket is dowelled, or possibly nailed, to the top or bottom front rail (respectively), but not secured to the top and bottom boards except loosely in the groove; their purpose is far from clear. There are very pronounced scrub-plane marks (with quite a narrow plane) on the top face of the top board.



Internally there is evidence of old, perhaps original fittings. On the left side are several pegs in the backboard, in a row quite high up, presumably hanging pegs, which seem to have been wedged from the back. On the right side are grooves and other evidence of former shelves, some or all of which may also have been original. The shallow grooves in the middle of the top and bottom boards, in which the two brackets slide, could once have held a partition between the two sides.



The doors are each formed from a single piece of wood, vertically grained, and cut tangentially across the full section of the trunk (not through the centre). Each is strengthened with two battens, one near the top and one near the bottom, which is secured by a sliding dovetail to the inside face of the door. This is to prevent the door from warping. The present bracket hinges are replacements for original long hinges, the ghosts of which can be seen on the inside face of each door. The latches at top and bottom of the left door look quite primitive but probably not original.



The front and sides of the cupboard are richly painted with a symmetrical arrangement of panels: on the cornice and door posts there are narrow rectangular panels with coloured grounds and scrolling rococo ornament; on the cupboard doors there are two large panels depicting a vase of flowers on a low table with scrolling feet and in between these is a smaller smaller figurative panel depicting a man on a horse in a landscape setting; on the sides of the cupboard there is a similar configuration of panels but they are painted with decorative brushwork rather than actual motifs. In all cases the painted decoration has been applied direct to the bare wood.



A number of painterly techniques have been used to create different effects. On the cornice and door posts the scrolling rococo ornament in each rectangular panel has been applied with a brush. Surrounding each panel on front and sides a comb-like brush has been used to created the 'banding' effect whereby the paint is first applied and then removed by pulling the 'comb' across it, leaving striped lines (called in German Kammzugtechnik). The pattern on the main panels of the sides is dabbed on with repeated applications of the end of a thick brush.



The panels on the front of the cupboard employ yet another technique. A white ground has been applied first and then the floral or figurative depictions painted on top of this. The four panels with vases of flowers are repeated from one panel to the next and are very similar to each other but there are too many small variations for them to have been done using a stencil. The outlines of the leaves and flower stems are very clear but there are no visible brushmarks. It is perhaps a possibility that this may have been done with an implement other than a brush – perhaps a fine needle like those used in to apply wax in silk painting. The corners of each panel are painted in blues and greens with a sponging technique which gives a mottled effect.
Dimensions
  • Height: 181.5cm
  • Width: 154cm
  • Depth: 64cm
LW / NH 12.1.10
Gallery Label
Cupboard Dated 1776 Upper Austria Softwood, painted, with turned feet and ornaments Museum no. W.55-1938 Here a plain structure was transformed by painting directly onto the wood. The horseman and vases were painted freehand, but in other areas various special techniques were used. The panel corners in mottled blue were sponged using ‘Prussian blue’, first available from 1724. The striped borders imitating ash were grained by pulling a comb-like brush through wet paint. (01/12/2012)
Object history
This cupboard forms part of a group of painted furniture made in Austria and Bavaria in the 18th century. Made regionally as farm furniture, these objects typically include two-doored cupboards and chests, as well as more elaborate beds and cradles. A combination of painted figurative and decorative motifs, together with a range of painted effects and techniques, is common across the group.
Production
Date, '1776' is included in the painted decoration
Summary
This cupboard is part of a wider group of painted farm furniture made in southern Germany, Tyrol and upper Austria in the second half of the 18th century. The cupboard would have been built and painted in a single local workshop. It was probably made for a particular household, to commemorate an event such as a marriage or birth. The cupboard’s rich decorative combination of painted flowers, riders on horseback and imitations of marble, wood veneer and boulle marquetry is typical of the farm furniture produced in this area at the end of the 18th century.
Collection
Accession Number
W.55:1-1938

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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