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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64b, The Simon Sainsbury Gallery

Bracket

1600 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Museum purchased this bracket several years after acquiring the celebrated housefront built by Sir Paul Pindar with which it was associated. It came from a collection of London antiquities, but it is likely that originally it formed part of the spectacular chimney-piece in the main room on the first floor, directly under a richly moulded plaster ceiling. There are similar, larger, carved brackets on the front of the house, flanking the windows.

In about 1600 composite creatures like this one (part man, part woman with cloven hooves) were often prominently included in symbolic locations such as bed-heads or fireplaces, on which particular attention and expenditure were focused. They may have been understood as playing a symbolic role, here perhaps to scare evil away from the hearth; or they may simply have been an outlet for a vigourous sense of humour.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oak, carved
Brief Description
English, 1600, ex Pindar House Bishopsgate Without, oak
Physical Description
Bracket in the form of a naked, crouching monster with a man's head (with moustache), the body of a woman (hands on thighs), and cloven hooves instead of feet; above the hoofs is a volute. Carved from the solid, with a tenon above; the lower right corner broken off, and losses to the face and proper left breast. Unpainted.
Dimensions
  • Height: 51.4cm
  • Width: 41.4cm
  • Depth: 14.5cm
  • Weight: 8.5kg
Style
Object history
Museum minute paper (22/04/1901) from T.A.Lehfelett (?) to A.B.Skinner says:

'I called to-day on Mrs Smith of 34 Thomas St. Whitechapel whose name was given by Mr G.F.Lawrence of Wandsworth and saw the wooden truss that originally formed part of the front of the 'Pindar' house; its place is now occupied by a plaster cast of one of the other trusses. Mrs Smith was not prepared to put a price on the object, which she said was going to be put up for auction at Sotheby's shortly with a quantity of pottery, coins &c &c some of which might interest the Museum...'



Offered for sale, by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, thursday 19th December 1901 at No.13 Wellington Street, Strand: Works of Art, Antiquities and other objects, including the collection of antiquities found in London and Southwark, of the late Mr James Smith, of Whitechapel...

Lot 88 A large Bracket of carved oak - XVIIth century



In a Museum minute paper of 13 December 1901 A.B.Skinner wrote to the director

'When the front of the Sir Paul Pindar Tavern was given to the Museum, one of the brackets was missing & the vacancy was filled with a copy of one of the others in plaster.

This missing bracket has turned up in the sale dated above - it is important if possible to get it for the sake of completing the front. Could we have permission to try and get it at the sale?...

An Art Referee report by Walter Crane (18/12/01) adds: '88. is desirable as being probably one of the original brackets from the Peter [sic] Pindar House now in the Museum'

Purchased for £3.3.0



Nothing is known for certain about this bracket before it was identified in a private London collection in 1901. At that time a connection with the Pindar House front was made, possibly according to a tradition known to the owner. The Museum authorities believed that this bracket was the original from the right hand storey post at first or second floor height, replaced by a plaster copy of the left hand bracket by the Museum during the 1890s. However, it is clear that 1561-1901 is much smaller than the facade brackets (80cm) which also are made with a tenon on their reverse, not above as with 1561-1901. (The Museum authorities would not easily have been able to compare the measurements once the house was erected in the Museum.) It is also clear from 19th century photographs that the right hand storey posts were severely degraded by weathering and the ornament removed (the upper bracket before 1869, the first floor bracket some time before 1878), which is why the ornament was replaced with plaster copies. 1561-1901 shows wear but not significant weathering.



However, an engraving published in 1815 in J.T.Smith's Ancient Topography of London... (NAL 236.G.10) shows an interior view of the principal room on the first floor, with panelled walls, moulded plaster ceiling and chimneypiece of stone, plaster and wood, dated 1600. Both jambs bear brackets of a strikingly similar form, that on the right showing a male head, female body (hands on knees) and cloven hooves. The proportion of the illustrated brackets to the overall height of the room is 1:7, which matches exactly the proportion of the bracket to the known height of this room (taken from the interior of this room surviving as part of the house front). The evidence strongly suggests therefore that 1561-1901 is the right hand (proper left) bracket from this chimney-piece, the only known surviving element from this prestigious ensemble which J.T.Smith says (p.51) was in September and October 1811 along with 'the whole of the ornaments cut away'.
Summary
The Museum purchased this bracket several years after acquiring the celebrated housefront built by Sir Paul Pindar with which it was associated. It came from a collection of London antiquities, but it is likely that originally it formed part of the spectacular chimney-piece in the main room on the first floor, directly under a richly moulded plaster ceiling. There are similar, larger, carved brackets on the front of the house, flanking the windows.



In about 1600 composite creatures like this one (part man, part woman with cloven hooves) were often prominently included in symbolic locations such as bed-heads or fireplaces, on which particular attention and expenditure were focused. They may have been understood as playing a symbolic role, here perhaps to scare evil away from the hearth; or they may simply have been an outlet for a vigourous sense of humour.
Associated Object
846-1890 (Ensemble)
Bibliographic References
  • H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork (London 1930), 683
  • J.T.Smith, Ancient Topography of London... (London 1815), p.50 and adjacent plate
Collection
Accession Number
1561-1901

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record createdJuly 5, 2005
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