Cupboard thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Cupboard

c.1361 (made)
Place Of Origin

Recess or cupboard, in two compartments, with two rows of shelves. Stucco decorated with arabesque ornament and inscriptions in the style peculiar to Spain in the Middle Ages & called "mudejar". Above the lower row of arches in the interior are the Spanish words, in Gothic letters: Dios: te: salve: Estrella : de : la : mannana : melezina : de : los : peccadores : reina (Hail! morning star; medicine of sinnners; queen) and on the upper band is an Arabic inscription, repeated several times in African characters - El youmnu wa-l-ikbal (Felicity and Fortune). An incomplete Latin inscription, in Gothic letters is on the band surrounding the exterior arch. This "alhacena" or cupboard, was in the court of an old house at Toledo, known as the "Casa de la Parra" and is mentioned in the local guide books as the "Botica de los Templarios" (The Templar’s Dispensary) probably because the Templars occupied the Parish of St Michael in which the house stands. It is not improbable that it was built for some apothecariy to keep his medicines in.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 14 parts.

  • Cupboard Part
  • Cupboard Part
  • Cupboard Part
  • Cupboard Part
  • Cupboard Part
  • Cupboard Part
  • Cupboard Part
  • Tray of Fragments
  • Tray of Fragments
  • Tray of Fragments
  • Tray of Fragments
  • Tray of Fragments
  • Tray of Fragments
  • Tray of Fragments
Materials and Techniques
Stucco and wood
Brief Description
Spanish, Toledo, 14th century. H 5' 4", W 8', depth 2' 6"
Physical Description
Recess or cupboard, in two compartments, with two rows of shelves. Stucco decorated with arabesque ornament and inscriptions in the style peculiar to Spain in the Middle Ages & called "mudejar". Above the lower row of arches in the interior are the Spanish words, in Gothic letters: Dios: te: salve: Estrella : de : la : mannana : melezina : de : los : peccadores : reina (Hail! morning star; medicine of sinnners; queen) and on the upper band is an Arabic inscription, repeated several times in African characters - El youmnu wa-l-ikbal (Felicity and Fortune). An incomplete Latin inscription, in Gothic letters is on the band surrounding the exterior arch. This "alhacena" or cupboard, was in the court of an old house at Toledo, known as the "Casa de la Parra" and is mentioned in the local guide books as the "Botica de los Templarios" (The Templar’s Dispensary) probably because the Templars occupied the Parish of St Michael in which the house stands. It is not improbable that it was built for some apothecariy to keep his medicines in.
Dimensions
  • Height: 64in
  • Width: 96in
  • Depth: 30in
From catalogue: H 5' 4", W 8', depth 2' 6"
Style
Object history
Bought 10l. 10s. from Sebastian Silla, Toledo via Señor Riano; condition "broken"

Transferred from SCP dept.12/1928(?).

Memo: there are six carved wooden brackets, which have not through mistake, been made up with the rest of the portions of the object. They are numbered 1764 a to f.

Recorded in gallery 48 (date unclear in FWK Findings List, possibly 1928)

Bibliographic References
  • Juan F. Riaño. The Industrial Arts in Spain (London 1879), pp. 113-5, ill. p.114 "A very interesting specimen of this combination of styles is a recess or cupboard of the 14th century, which is at the Kensington Museum, No. 1764, 71, [see woodcut] It is 5 feet 4 inches high, by 8 feet wide ; and is composed of an outer arch, with the tympani ornamented with fine arabesques in relief, made of stucco, —representing vine tendrils, leaves, and flowers, similar to those which appear in the Cosa de Mesa and other Moorish houses at Toledo. The arch is surrounded by two Latin inscriptions in Gothic characters, of which only the following words are legible + Autem transies per medium ilorum . . . . mente +. The first of these is from Sr. Luke, iv., v. 30, a passage often quoted by alchemists. This arch serves as a portal to the cupboard, which is about a foot deep, and is divided into two compartments with two rows of shelves. Each of these is supported by a series of Moorish arches, the tympani of which are ornamented with tracery, or an ornamentation of leaves in a geometrical and Oriental manner. On the rim of the upper part is repeated the following inscription in African characters: “Felicity and Fortune." On the lower shelf are the following words in Spanish in Gothic characters: + Dios : te : salve : estrella : de : la : mannana : medicina : de : los : pecadores : reina. + “Hail ! morning star; medicine of sinners ; queen.” This “Alhacena," or cupboard, existed formerly in the court of an old house at Toledo, known by the name of “Casa de la Parra,” and is constantly called “ Botica de los Templarios, “the Templars’ dispensary, probably because the Templars occupied the parish of St. Michael, in which the house stands, and because the word “medicine” is mentioned in the inscription."
  • M. Rosser-Owen. Islamic Arts from Spain (London: V&A Publishing, 2010) p. 83 Fig. 76: 'Juan Facundo Riano (1829-1901). Woodcut showing the stucco cupboard from the 'Botica de los Templarios', Toledo, c.1879. (V&A: 1764-1871). P. 83: 'While Islamic forms such as polylobed arches, muqarnas (stalactite prisms) and sebka (lozenge patterns) are employed, the scrolling plant motifs have the same Gothicized appearance as they do at Pedro's palaces. This style seems to have become prevalent in mid-fourteenth-century Toledo, when it was also used to decorate the spandrels of a stucco cupboard from a Toledan house known as the Botica de los Templarios, 'the Templars' dispensary', where medicine was given out to the poor (p1.76) [Note 20: see Riaño, Juan Facundo, The Industrial Arts in Spain (London 1879) pp. 114-15. Unfortunately, this object is now irreparably damaged.] The inscriptions here are in Latin, Arabic and Castilian.'
  • Jordano Barbudo, M.ª Á. "El arco mudéjar de la botica de los Templarios en el Victoria & Albert Museum de Londres", Actas del XII Simposio Internacional de Mudejarismo, Teruel, 2011 Consulted 1/12/2017 http://helvia.uco.es/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10396/11628/jordano1.pdf?sequence=3
  • Juan F. Riaño, Classified and Descriptive Catalogue of the Art Objects of Spanish Production in the South Kensington Museum. (London, 1872), vii. “Belonging to the Mudejar style, of this curious mixture of Arabian and Christian art, there is also an interesting specimen at the Museum, bought at Toledo, which is all the more curious as it is the only thing of its kind known in Spain, No. 1764 (p.2).”
  • 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.125
Collection
Accession Number
1764B-1871

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record createdJanuary 30, 2007
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