FURNITURE-MAKING IN GERMANY AND THE LOW COUNTRIES HE close connection politically between Flanders, Spain, and Germany brought about a curious affinity between the various phases of the Renais sance known as Flemish, Spanish, and German. Charles, king of Spain was emperor of Germany, and also count of Flanders and duke of Burgundy. The intercourse between Spain and the Low Countries had for several centuries been very intimate. When Marie of Burgundy married Archduke Maximilian, Austria became a part of the royal circle which now included Spain, Germany, Holland, and Flanders. By this marriage the Low Countries were annexed to the Austrian crown, a rich possession at this period of the world's history.

The development of the Renaissance in Holland and Flanders, with its subsequent influence on the handicraft of other nations, is one of the most interesting chapters in the history of industrial art. Holland and Flanders accepted the movement tardily and never succumbed to it as did the French and the Italians. Just as Gothic ornament remained beautiful in the Low Countries long after it had become extravagant in France, so the ornament of the Renaissance remained coherent long after it had become grotesque in France and England.

Holland and Flanders reversed the usual order of Renaissance development. The early and middle periods were less creditable than the later phases. The Italians and the French achieved their triumphs before the advent of the seventeenth century, but the Dutch and the Flemings brought their work to perfection after the year 1600. If the English were the great furniture-makers of the eighteenth century, the inhabitants of the Low Countries were the great furniture -makers of the seventeenth. The part that Holland and Flanders played in England's triumphs cannot be overestimated. The late Jacobean and the Queen Anne styles, both of which were a preparation for the great eighteenth-century styles, were of Dutch origin.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Flemish and Dutch work was so closely allied that the two adjectives are often used interchangeably. Previous to this date there was a greater difference in the arts of the two countries. Flanders was more closely in touch with France, and Holland with Germany. The hall of the Gruuthuuse, shown on page 75, is a typical Flemish interior of a semi-public nature. The mantel is of stone and brick, with a simple hood, ornamented in low relief. The severity of this room is in startling contrast to the French apartments of the period. The chairs are of the type described in the previous chapter, having high seats, comparatively low backs, and strong turned legs and braces. Of like construction is the Dutch chair in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, illustrated on page 63. The table is similar to the English type of the late sixteenth century, but of a higher order of workmanship. Contemporary with the table is the beautiful oak cupboard, reproduced on the following page. It is interesting to compare this sixteenth-century specimen with the fine fifteenth-century cupboard illustrated in Chapter III. Both are Flemish and both show a striking similarity of construction. The divisions of the doors, panels, and drawers are identical. The locks are placed in the same relative position; the handles of the drawers^are of the same variety; the hinges are of the same dimensions. The Renaissance cupboard' has brackets and the Gothic cupboard has a heavier molding, but barring

cabinet of dutch marquetry
flemish cupboard, sixteenth century

these details the constructive qualities are one and the same. When it comes to ornament there is a hundred years' difference in time, and a world of difference in the treatment. Each is typical of its kind and each is a beautiful specimen of wôod-carving.

Flemish cabinet-making had a wide influence on the furniture-makers of other countries, but Flemish chair-making exerted a greater one. The chair with turned legs and braces traveled from one country to another, but no design equaled in traveling capacity the cane chair of Flanders. It found its way to France, Spain, England, and later to America, each country adding a few characteristics. In England it took root so firmly that for years it was classed as Jacobean, and still masquerades as such in many old catalogues and inventories. The attributes of the pure Flemish design were a back and seat of finely woven cane, feet terminating in an outward scroll, three turned stretchers, and a carved under brace following in general lines the carving of the back. The beautiful chair in Blois, described in the preceding chapter, is a French adaptation of the style.

Holland's chief contribution to furniture-making of the seventeenth century was her exquisite marquetry. Holland's commercial intercourse with the orient gave her a knowledge of rare tropical woods, and it is not surprising that she was one of the first nations to use veneering as a form of decoration. Intarsia had been carried to a high degree of perfection in Italy. France later in the century gave to the world André Charles Boulle whose marvelous work in brass and shell stands unrivaled. Spain led in the intricate inlaying of ivory and silver— a legacy from the Moors. But to Holland belongs the honor of bringing to perfection the veneer of colored woods known as "marquetry."

Hamilton Jackson in his book, Intarsia and Marquetry, says "The word 'intarsia' is derived from the Latin 'interserere,' to insert, according to the best Italian authorities, though Scherer says there was a similar word, 'tausia,' which was applied to the inlaying of gold and silver in some other metal, an art practiced in Damascus, and there called damascening; and that at first the two words meant the same thing, but after a time one was applied to work in wood and the other to metal-work. The word 'tausia' is said to be of Arabic origin, and there is no doubt that the art is oriental. It perhaps reached Europe either by way of Sicily or through the Spanish Moors. "Marquetry," on the other hand, is a word of much later origin, and comes from the French "marqueter," to spot, to mark. It seems, therefore, accurate to apply the former term to those inlays of wood in which a space is first sunk in the solid."

After the accession of William of Orange Dutch" marquetry was imported in great quantities in England, many pieces of which exist to-day in museums and private collections. The wealthy Dutch colonists in America possessed beau-

tiful specimens of this work in the form of cupboards and kasses. These are still preserved by the descendants of the original owners and form, in their entirety, an almost complete history of the art as applied to the decoration of furniture from the middle of the seventeenth century until late in the eighteenth century.

In Germany there was a long transitional period during which the lingering traditions of Gothic art died slowly. The early phases of the Renaissance show the grafting of the new upon the old. This mixture of Gothic and Renaissance was less successful in that country than in France where a happier union prevailed.

The best examples of German wood-carving of the early sixteenth century were of ecclesiastical origin. Choir stalls and altar-pieces were richly decorated in the manner of the day. In domestic architecture the combination of Gothic construction and Renaissance ornament was less successful. A certain quaintness, however, marked all German handicraft of this period and early Renaissance specimens are eagerly sought to-day. Following the transitional period came the Flemish-German period in which a marked similarity existed between the work

room in an old dutch home, edam, holland, furniture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries room in an old dutch home, edam, holland, furniture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

german press, typical example op renaissance carving

of Flanders and Germany. Spanish influence was fleeting and was mainly confined to a curious ornamentation of silver and ivory based on Saracenic patterns.

Toward the middle of the sixteenth century German handicraft became more individual and the late Renaissance development was a distinct phase. Not until the late seventeenth century, when German designers became engulfed in the extreme rococo, did the work of this nation lose its beauty and vitality. Augsburg, Dresden, Munich, Cologne, and Nuremburg contain many sixteenth-century specimens. Chairs, cupboards, and presses of this period are beautiful specimens of wood-carving. The great presses of this century are the most characteristic pieces of furniture. Made of oak and walnut with carved panels and heavy doors they are as substantial to-day as when they came from the hands of their maker. The press, illustrated on the preceding page, is made of walnut with an unusually fine scheme of decoration. The plain surfaces are well distributed and the ornament, although elaborate, is neither heavy nor fantastic. The lock is concealed in the carving, while the key repeats the lines of the ornament. The ball-feet are worthy of note as they indicate a new feature of furniture-making.

How To Sell Furniture

How To Sell Furniture

Types Of Furniture To Sell. There are many types of products you can sell. You just need to determine who your target market is and what specific item they want. Or you could sell a couple different ones in a package deal.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment