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Bench ends

Bench ends

  • Place of origin:

    Devon (possibly, made)
    Cornwall (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500-1520 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oak

  • Museum number:

    W.17, 18-1913

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

These are typical of many bench ends from the West Country (south-west England). The motifs on the shields have been identified as the Instruments of the Passion, which were used to torture Jesus Christ before his death. But the inclusion of what may be a book or a wrist-guard suggests that they could represent the tools of a craftsman's trade.

Physical description

Bench-end, square headed, carved with a panel bordered by leaf ornament, and enclosing tracery with two shields. The shields on W.17-1913 contain a hammer and what may be a book or a wrist-guard; the shields on W.18-1913 contain a hammer and pincers. Punched decoration on the shields.

Place of Origin

Devon (possibly, made)
Cornwall (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1500-1520 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Oak

Dimensions

Height: 80 cm

Descriptive line

Bench ends, oak carved with a panel bordered by leaf ornament, and enclosing tracery with two shields, made in Devon or Cornwall, ca.1500-1520

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

Charles Tracy, English Medieval Furniture and Woodwork (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1988) nos. 201-202
'BENCH-ENDS, one of two (Mus. Nos. W.17-1913 & W.18-1913), square-headed, each carved with a panel bordered by leaf ornament, and enclosing tracery with two shields on one a hammer and unidentified image (possibly a book, or even a wrist-guard), and the other a hammer and pincers; punched decoration on the shields (PLS. 72a & b).
Devon or East Cornwall
Oak. Early 16th century
80.3 x 43.2 cm
Mus. No. W.17-1913
Two of a set of fourteen bench-ends from a private museum formed early in the 19th century by the Clarkes of Bridwell, near Tiverton and sold at Christie’s, Feb.13, 1913. Stylistically these are typical of a very large class of Devonshire and Cornwall bench-ends. The motifs depicted were identified in the previous catalogue with the instruments of the Passion. However, if the unidentified image is a book, the Instruments of the Passion hypothesis would be undermined. The possibility that it is supposed to represent a wrist-guard suggests that the carver was depicting the tools of a craftsman’s trade. There is a precedent for this on the stylistically comparable screen fragment in St Ives Church, Cornwall depicting the implements of Ralph Clies, master-smith (FIG.45)'

Marks, R & Williamson, P. (Eds.), Gothic. Art for England 1400-1547, London, V&A, 2003

Labels and date

Two bench ends
About 1500-1520

These are typical of may West Country bench ends. The motifs on the shields have been identified as the Instruments of the Passion, used to torture Christ before his death. But the inclusion of an arm brace suggests that they probably represent the tools of a craftsman's trade.

Oak
Made in Devon or Cornwall

V&A: W.17 and 18-1913
Cat. 271 [2003]

Production Note

Made in Devon or Cornwall

Subjects depicted

Hammer; Book; Tongs

Categories

Furniture; Religion

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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