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Title: Dutch and Flemish Furniture

Author: Esther Singleton

Release date: April 15, 2017 [eBook #54552]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
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Transcriber's Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Frontispiece. Bed by Daniel Marot.


Author of “French and English Furniture,” etc
With numerous illustrations
Butler and Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, France, and London



No special inducement need be held out to an educated Englishman at the present day to take an interest in a particular field of the arts and crafts of the Low Countries. Long before the nobles of Flanders, France and England were associated in attempts to free the holy places from the pollution of infidel possession, the dwellers on the opposite coasts of England, Normandy and the Netherlands had been bound together by many dynastic and trade bonds. As we follow the course of history, we find that the interests of the English and the Flemings were inextricably connected; and there was a constant stream of the manufactures of the Low Countries pouring into English ports. The English supplied much of the raw material upon which the Flemings depended for subsistence. In mediaeval days the inhabitants of the Low Countries could always be forced by English statecraft to help the Plantagenet kings in their continental intrigues by the mere cutting off of the supply of wool. Later, the community of tastes and interests in Reformation days drew the races closer together; and all through Elizabethan days, and then onwards till the close of the Marlborough campaigns, the inhabitants of England and the Netherlands were on terms of intimate acquaintance, socially and industrially.

viIn the following pages, therefore, constant evidence will appear of the influence of the arts and crafts of the Low Countries on English manufactures and importations. Trade rivalry frequently gave rise to coolness between England and Holland, and to an inglorious war in the days of the Merry Monarch. The latter period I have treated at considerable length on account of the importance of the Oriental trade on the interior decorations of Dutch homes.

On taking a general survey of the Decorative Arts of the Low Countries, we notice several well-defined periods and influences.

Materials are too meagre for us to learn much about domestic interiors during the Dark Ages, but we know that, in common with England and Northern France, Scandinavian Art largely prevailed.

The feudal lords of the territories that now formed the Netherlands were enthusiastic in assuming the cross; and for two centuries the arts and crafts of Byzantium and the luxury of the East dominated Western Europe.

About 1300 the influence of Byzantium had waned, and the Gothic style was bursting into full bloom. For the next two centuries it held full sway, and was then pushed aside by the Renaissance, which made itself felt at the end of the fifteenth century.

At the end of the sixteenth century we find the Renaissance fully developed; and for the next fifty years Flanders is the willing slave of Rubens and his school. The Decadence quickly follows.

The provinces that now constitute Holland and Belgium went hand in hand in the Decorative Arts until viiabout 1600. If there was any difference, Holland was more influenced by German and Flanders by French Art. After the establishment of the Dutch trade with the Far East at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Dutch and Flemish Art diverge.

In the following chapters I have tried to trace these influences and developments.

In illustrating the book I have gone to the original works of the great masters of design—De Vries, Van de Passe, Marot and others. As for Dutch interiors, nothing can convey a clearer idea of the home than the famous pictures by the Great and Little Masters—Jan Steen, Teniers, Rembrandt, Cocques, Metsu, Maes, Terburg, Dou, Weenix, Van Hoogstraten, Troost, etc., etc., many of whose famous canvases are reproduced here.

I also include photographic reproductions of authentic examples of Dutch and Flemish furniture preserved in the Cluny, Rijks, Stedelijk and other museums.

In my attempt to reconstruct Dutch and Flemish interiors of past days, I have consulted not only histories, memoirs and books of travel, but wills and inventories as well.

I wish to thank Mr. Arthur Shadwell Martin for valuable research and aid for both text and illustrations.

E. S.


The Middle Ages 1–29
  Ecclesiastical Art—Wood-carving and Carvers—Primitive Character of the Furniture of Castles and Mansions—HuchiersMenuisiers—A Typical Bedroom—Dinanderie—Wood-work and panelling—Chest, banc, bahut, sideboard, dressoir, credence, table and chair—Embroideries—Definition of Chambre—Textiles and Tapestries—Ecclesiastical Hangings—Tapestry-weavers—Tapestry of Philip the Bold—Flemish Looms—Cordovan and Flemish Leathers—Goldsmith’s Work—Glass and Glass-workers—Guilds of St. Luke.  
The Burgundian Period 31–62
  The luxurious Dukes of Burgundy—Possessions of the House of Burgundy—The Burgundian Court—Household of Philip the Good—the Feast of the Pheasant—the Duke of Burgundy at the Coronation of Louis XI—Arras Tapestries—Sumptuous Dressoirs and their Adornments—Celebrations in honour of the Knights of the Golden Fleece—Luxury of Charles the Bold—Charles the Bold at Trèves—Furnishings of the Abbey of Saint-Maximin—Charles the Bold’s Second Marriage—Furnishings of the Banqueting Hall at Bruges—Descriptions by Olivier de la Marche—Aliénor of Poitiers’ Descriptions of the Furniture of the Duchess of Burgundy’s Apartments—Rich Dressoirs—the Drageoir and its Etiquette—the Etiquette of the Escarbeau—Philip the Bold’s Artisans—Flemish Carving—the Forme or Banc—Burgundian Workmanship—Ecclesiastical Work—Noted Carvers—Furniture of the Period—the “Golden Age of Tapestry”—Embroideries—Tapestry-weavers of the Low Countries—Introduction of Italian Cartoons—Goldsmiths’ Work—Furniture of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.  
The Renaissance: Part I 63–96
x  Dawn of the Renaissance—The Transitional Period—Coffers and Bahuts—Court of Margaret of Austria—Perrèal’s Style—Margaret’s Tomb by Perrèal—Taste of the Regent—Margaret’s Tapestries, Carpets, Table-covers and Cushions—Her Curios—Flemish Tapestries—Cartoons by Bernard van Orley—William de Pannemaker—English Tapestries—Last Days of the Gothic Style—Guyot de Beaugrant, Lancelot Blondeel and Peter Pourbus—Stalls in the Groote Kerk, Dordrecht—Carvings in Haarlem—Invasion of the Renaissance—Walnut, the Favourite Wood for Furniture and Carving—Versatility of the Artists—the Fleming as Emigrant—the Renaissance in Burgundy—Hugues Sambin—Sebastian Serlio—Peter Coeck of Alost—Pupils of Peter Coeck—Lambert Lombard—Francis Floris, the “Flemish Raphael”—the Craze for Numismatics—Hubert Goltzius—Cabinets of the Sixteenth Century—Italian Furniture—Characteristic Features of Renaissance Furniture—Ornaments, the Arabesque, Pilaster, Cartouche, Cuirs, Banderole and Caryatid—Publications of Decorative Design—Alaert Claes, Lucas van Leyden, Cornelis Bos and Martin van Heemskerck.  
The Renaissance: Part II 97–129
  Second Period of the Renaissance—Court of Mary of Hungary—Charles V a Fleming—Influence of Burgundian Court in Spain—Gilded Leather—Wealth of the Nobles in the Netherlands—Margaret of Valois at Namur—Antwerp in the Sixteenth Century—Christopher Plantin—Cornelis and James Floris—Jerome Cock—Hans and Paul de Vries—Jacques van Noye—Famous Designers—Characteristics of the Second Period of the Renaissance—Bedsteads, Tables and Chairs, Armoires, Cabinets and Chests—Porcelain, Glass and Glass Cupboards—Windows and Glass-painters—Guicciardini on the Artists of the Low Countries—Paul de Vries—Crispin de Passe the Elder—the Collaerts—Wood-carving—Music and Musical Instruments.  
Seventeenth Century (Flemish) 131–167
  Renewed Italian Influence—Rubens: his Studio, his House, his Pupils, his Influence, his Successors—Seventeenth Century Wood-carvers—Development and Tendencies of Furniture—Crispin van den Passe—Rembrandt’s Goods and Chattels—Old Belgian Houses—The Pitsembourg—Kitchens—Leather-hangings—Tapestry—Marquetry—Chairs—Masters of Ornamental Design—The “Auricular Style.”  
Seventeenth Century (Dutch) 169–202
xi  Famous Dutch Architects—The Royal Palace on the Dam, Het Loo, The Mauritshuis and Huis Ten Bosch—Interior Carvings—Specimens of Rooms and Ceilings in the Rijks Museum—Love of the Dutch for their Houses—Miniature Dutch Houses and Models of Old Amsterdam Houses in the Rijks Museum—Architecture of the Seventeenth Century—A Typical Dutch Home—The Luifel, Voorhuis and Comptoir—Interior Decorations and Furniture—Dutch Mania for Cleaning—Descriptions by Travellers of Dutch Houses and Cleaning—Cleaning Utensils—House and Furniture of Andreas Hulstman Janz, in Dordrecht—Inventory of Gertrude van Mierevelt, wife of the painter, in Delft—“Show-Rooms” and their Furnishings—Cooking Utensils—Bedroom in the House of Mrs. Lidia van der Dussen in Dordrecht—The Cradle and “Fire-Basket”—The Baby’s Silver—The “Bride’s Basket”—The “Bride’s Crown” and “Throne”—Decorations for a Wedding—Description by Sir John Lower of the Farewell Entertainment to Charles II at the Hague.  
The Importance of Porcelain 203–235
  Rise of Dutch Taste in Decorative Art—Influence of Foreign Trade in the Dutch Home—Accounts of Porcelain by Mediaeval Travellers: Edrisi, Ibn Batuta and Shah Rukh—Quotation from Pigapheta—A Great European Collection—Monopoly of Trade by the Portuguese—Quotation from Pyrard de Laval—Portuguese Carracks—Voyages to Goa and Japan—Porcelain and Cabinets—Mendoza’s Description of Earthenware—Dutch and English Merchants—Presents to Queen Elizabeth—Dutch Expeditions and Establishment of the Dutch East India Company—Embassy to the Emperor of China in 1655—Descriptions of the Manufacture of Porcelain—Manufacture and Potters of Delft—Quotation from d’Entrecolles on Porcelain and Oriental Trade—Prices—Tea—Tea-drinking—A Dutch Poet on the Tea-table—Chrestina de Ridder’s Porcelain—Prices of Porcelain in 1653.  
The Dutch Home 237–270
  Love of porcelain—The Amsterdam Mart—Prices of China in 1615—Oriental wares before 1520—Luxury of the Dutch Colonists—Rich Burghers in New Amsterdam—Inventories of Margarita van Varick and Jacob de Lange—Dutch Merchants in the East—Foreign Views of Dutch Luxury—Dutch Interiors after the Great and Little Masters—House-furnishing by a young married couple—The Linen Chest—Clothes Chests and Cupboards—The Great Kas—The Cabinet—The Toilet—Table-covers—Foot-warmers—Looking-glasses—Bedsteads—Tables and Chairs—Woods—Kitchen Utensils—Silverware—Household Pets.  
Dutch Furniture under French and Oriental Influence 271–293
  The Dutch Craftsmen in the Employ of Louis XIV—Huguenot Emigration—Marot—The Sopha—Upholstery—The Bed—Chairs—Sconces—Tables—Rooms—English and Dutch Alliances—Hampton Court—Queen Mary—Looking-glasses—Chandeliers—Chimney-pieces—The style refugié—John Hervey’s Purchases—Oriental Furniture manufactured after European Patterns—Complaints of Home Manufacturers—Trade with the Indies—“Prince Butler’s Tale”—Enormous Importations—Imported Textiles—Foreign Textiles for Upholstery.  
Furniture of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries 295–327
  Lacquer—Oriental Methods—European Importations and Limitations—Prices—An Ambassador’s Report—Singerie, Chinoiserie and Rocaille—The Dutch Decadence—Interiors of Cornelis Troost—Mirrors—Wealth and Luxury of Dutch Merchants—Court Contrasts—Tapestry—Brussels as a Centre of Art and Luxury—Eighteenth Century Furniture—The Empire Style in the Low Countries—Dutch Homes of the Nineteenth Century—The Maarken House and Furniture—Typical Farmhouse and Furniture—Country Seats and Town Houses—Hindeloopen Houses and Furniture—A Friesland House—Canal Boat Furniture—Dutch Love of Symmetry—Collectors and Collections.  


  Bed by Daniel Marot Frontispiece
I. Choir-Stall 4
II. Bedroom (Fifteenth Century) and Figs. 1–5 8
III. Flemish Dressoir (Fifteenth Century), and Figs. 6–9 14
IV. Credence (Fifteenth Century) 38
V. Coffer in Flemish Style 66
VI. Flemish Coffer or Huche 68
VII. Huche, or Bahut (Sixteenth Century) 70
VIII. Cabinet (Sixteenth Century) 84
IX. Armoire (Burgundian School) 86
X. Bedroom, by De Vries 92
XI. Flemish Bedstead (1580) and Figs. 10–18 94
  Bed, Tables, Chair and Footstool, Flemish Chairs. Figs. 19–25 106
XII. Bedstead, Chairs and Table, by J. Stradan 108
xivXIII. Bedstead, by De Vries 110
XIV. Bedstead, Rijks Museum 112
XV. Armoire, Rijks Museum 114
XVI. Glass Cupboard, or Vitrine, by De Vries 116
XVII. Glass Cupboard, or Vitrine, by De Vries 118
XVIII. Flemish Armoire and Figs. 26–27 120
XIX. Cabinet, or Armoire, by De Vries. Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Jerome Cock 122
XX. Cabinet, or Armoire, by De Vries. Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Jerome Cock 124
XXI. Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Adrian Collaert 126
XXII. Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Adrian Collaert 128
XXIII. Lady at Spinet, by J. M. Molenaer 132
XXIIIA. Spinet, by Ruckers 134
XXIV. Interior, by Barthol van Bassen (Seventeenth Century) and Figs. 28–30 136
XXV. Panelled Bedstead, Rijks Museum 144
XXVI. The Sick Woman, by Jan Steen, and Figs. 31–34 146
XXVII. Woman with a Parrot, by Jan Steen 148
xvXXVIII. Flemish Chair, Cluny Museum 154
XXIX. Flemish Chair Cluny Museum 156
XXX. Chairs, Cluny Museum 158
XXXI. Marquetry Cabinet, Rijks Museum 160
XXXII. Kitchen, Stedelijk Museum 162
XXXIII. Chairs, Rijks Museum 164
XXXIV. Chairs, Rijks Museum 170
XXXV. Chairs, Rijks Museum 172
XXXVI. The Oyster Feast, by Jan Steen, and Figs. 35–37 248
XXXVII. The Sick Lady, by Hoogstraten 250
XXXVIII. Interior, by J. Koedyck 252
XXXIX. The Music Lesson, by Terborch 254
XL. Interior, by J. B. Weenix 256
XLI. Breakfast, by G. Metsu 258
XLII. Interior, by Jan Steen 260
XLIII. Kas of Ebony and Ivory, Rijks Museum 262
XLIV. Dutch Kas, Cluny Museum 264
XLV. Flemish Chair, Cluny Museum 266
xviXLVI. “Buire,” by Mosyn, Auricular Style 268
  Screen in the Style Refugié. Fig. 39 272
XLVII. Carved Oak Bahut, Cluny Museum, and Fig. 38 274
  Sophas, Lower part of Chair, Lambrequins. Figs. 40–45 276
XLVIII. Bed and Bedroom, by Marot 278
XLIX. Mirrors and Sconces, by Marot 280
L. Mirrors, by Marot 282
LI. Mirrors, Console Table and Candlestands, by Marot 284
LII. Tables and Mascarons, by Marot 286
LIII. Clocks and Details, by Marot 288
LIV. Interior, by Cornelis Troost 298
  Cabinet from Liège, Dutch Mirror Frame. Figs. 46–47 300
LV. Interior, by Cornelis Troost 302
LVI. Room in the Stedelijk Museum 308
LVII. In Bruitlaen, by Artz 312


Ecclesiastical Art—Wood-carving and Carvers—Primitive character of the Furniture of Castles and Mansions—HuchiersMenuisiers—A Typical Bedroom—Dinanderie—Wood-work and panelling—Chest, banc, bahut, sideboard, dressoir, credence, table and chair—Embroideries—Definition of Chambre—Textiles and Tapestries—Ecclesiastical hangings—Tapestry-weavers—Tapestry of Philip the Bold—Flemish Looms—Cordovan and Flemish Leathers—Goldsmith’s Work—Glass and Glass-workers—Guilds of St. Luke.

In the turbulent days of the Middle Ages, the goods of the Church were the only ones respected, and, sometimes, not even those. The castles afforded protection to those in their immediate vicinity, but rival feudal ambitions rendered the calling of a luxurious craftsman more or less precarious. The abbey walls always sheltered a community of carpenters, joiners, leather-dressers, iron-workers, goldsmiths, sculptors, painters and calligraphists.

Towards the end of the Crusades, the new organization of the Communes, after the period of anarchy, becomes firmly established. Industry, commerce and art begin to make rapid strides in the towns, and craftsmen form themselves into corporations that receive special privileges from their titular overlords. So long as the artists of the ecclesiastical school remained under the protection of the monastic houses, they naturally 2followed a hieratic road. The ornamentation they were called upon to produce for the Church, they reproduced when luxurious furniture was required in domestic life. The great Corporations, however, as they grew in wealth and power, demanded something superior to, or at least, different from, the work of their forerunners. In the monastic houses, it was long before this influence made itself felt; but among the secular clergy it received a hearty welcome.

The distinguishing character of Mediaeval work is the freedom of execution allowed to the workman. The architect decided on heights, dimensions, dispositions of parts and profiles of stalls, or armoires; but the details were left to be worked out by the artistic ability of the skilled workman. Individual expression was allowed full play, while the original conception of the designer was respected.

Gradually, as the Communes became more powerful and were able to afford stable protection to their members, the spirit of association and solidarity tended to break away from exclusively ecclesiastical art.

The art of wood-carving was developed principally in the production of choir-stalls and altar-pieces. The building of a beautiful temple to the glory of God was usually begun by some pious founder from motives of gratitude or repentance. It was dedicated to some patron saint, and the work was carried out under the supervision of some abbey or other religious house. Often the church or cathedral was originally the abbey church itself. In early Mediaeval days, the arts and sciences were confined to the cloister, and the embellishment 3of the Holy House was a labour of love. Many an obscure monk put all that was beautiful and fanciful in his nature into the production of carvings in stone and wood that have never been surpassed.

The precise date at which choir-stalls were introduced into churches is not known; but it is certain that they were in general use as soon as the Pointed Style was finally established, that is to say, not later than the thirteenth century. When the sanctuary was railed off from the rest of the church, the priests, in their light garb, naturally wanted to be protected from cold, damp and draught by woodwork, which, like the high back of a settle, enclosed the choir.

The stall is composed of several parts: the socle, the tablet, or seat, half of which can be raised, as it turns on hinges, the half thus raised, called the miséricorde, serves as a support for a person resting, half standing, half sitting; the paraclose, or sides that separate it from the adjoining stalls [the forward extremities of these are called museaux (snouts)]; the arm rest; the high back; the daïs, or baldaquin; and, lastly, the woodwork at each end of a set of stalls, called jouées (cheeks).

With the exceptions of the socle and seat, every part of the stall in all the great Gothic churches has received very richly carved ornamentation, which is often remarkable for its profusion of detail.

The miséricorde is ordinarily decorated with foliage and fruits; but it often presents fantastic objects, such as dragons, sirens, dogs, bears, and hybrid monsters of every kind. Frequently also we find personages in 4ridiculous and gross attitudes, and all sorts of human and animal caricatures. The paraclose is decorated with Gothic tracery in the earliest examples; and later with foliage, tendrils and branches of elegant curve. These are usually open-work, the pierced oak producing a charmingly light and graceful effect. Sometimes here also we find human and animal forms. The high backs are enriched with bas-reliefs, the subjects of which are by no means taken exclusively from the Old or New Testament. On the contrary, here the carvers have given free rein to their fancy by reproducing scenes of private life, and graceful compositions of flowers and fruits with little animals intermingled. Sometimes the subjects are framed in clusters of colonnettes, or in pilasters decorated with niches containing statues. Sometimes also statues of considerable size adorn this woodwork. The jouées receive the most beautiful decorations, and frequently these side entrances to the stalls are ornamented by statues. The daïs, which at first was merely a shelter of boards on an inclined plane over the whole range of stalls, began to assume great importance in the fifteenth century. It curved into vaultings; and very soon each seat received a separate daïs decorated with ogives, pinnacles, little steeples, pendentives, culs-de-lampe and crockets; and the skilful carver did not hesitate to introduce delightful statuettes into the company of all these decorations.

Plate I.Choir-Stall.

A fine example of a Mediaeval carved oak stall is shown in Plate I. By the richness of the carving it must originally have held an important position in some choir. Richly ornamented with Gothic shafting and 5tracery, it is a splendid example of architectural furniture. The miséricorde represents a knight fighting with a dragon. The scene depicted with the chisel on the back is the favourite Judgment of Solomon. Around the elbows are various animals and men on all fours. The side scrolls under the daïs are decorated with angels playing trumpets.

The names of the carvers who embellished the Mediaeval choirs have, as a rule, been lost; and fire and iconoclasm have destroyed most of their work. Some few relics, however, of the splendour of wood-carving as it existed before the Renaissance are still to be found. For elaborate oak carving of the fifteenth century, it would be hard to find a more interesting example than the carved oak stalls in the great church of Bolsward (Broederkerk) in Holland. This was built in 1280 A.D.; but the richly carved late Gothic choir stalls date from about 1450.

One of the earliest churches of the Low Countries is that of Nivelles. The convent was founded about 650 A.D. by Ita, wife of Pepin of Landen. The Romanesque church, built in the eleventh century, somewhat spoilt by bad restoration, still stands. On the high altar is the shrine of St. Gertrude, which was carved in 1272 by the orfèvres Nicolas Colars, of Douai and Jackenon of Nivelles. This work of art is famous for the delicacy and beauty of its details.

The Protestant Church of Breda (Hervormde Kerk), built in 1290, also contains notable carving, especially on the side entrances of the stalls (jouées). The choir was consecrated in 1410, and here the carvers gave free 6rein to satire on the clergy, representing the monks in various comical attitudes.

Examples of ecclesiastical furniture of Mediaeval days are naturally scarce, as might be expected on the “Battlefield of Europe.” It is indeed astonishing that so much has survived after the ordeal by fire and sword to which the Netherlands have been so often subjected. Occasionally we come across a muniment chest. An interesting one, the front of which is perforated with quatrefoils, is to be seen in Notre Dame, Huy. This dates from 1225. Two others in the same treasury are by the hand of Godefroid de Claire, called “the noble high goldsmith”; these, however, have lost their original character, having been restored in 1560 by Jaspar, a Namur goldsmith.

The ordinary movable furniture of a castle or Mediaeval mansion was of a very primitive character. It must be remembered that in those days merchants travelled from town to town in veritable caravans. Nobles whose business or pleasure induced them constantly to be changing their residence, also travelled with an escort and baggage-train that resembled a small army. The necessary furniture and goods for the comfort of the household were carried in carts and on the backs of mules. The wooden furniture was, therefore, primitive. The tables consisted of boards and trestles; the beds were of similarly elemental construction; and what seats were taken along were also of the folding variety. The beds and benches were supplied with cushions carried in chests, and the walls were hung with printed linen or tapestry, while the floors were covered with 7rugs, or, in the majority of cases, with odoriferous plants, rushes, or straw. Luxury chiefly declared itself in rich products of the goldsmith’s art, which were displayed on buffets of shelves rising like steps. These customs prevailed for several centuries.

Pieces of furniture of earlier date than 1400 are exceedingly rare; and those existing had a religious destination, and are preserved in, or taken from, churches and convents.

In the fourteenth century, as Gothic Art blossomed after the disturbing influence of the Crusades, carving entered more extensively into the decoration of furniture, as it was more highly developed in ecclesiastical art. The cabinet-makers of the period were skilful carvers: in France and Flanders these huchiers-menuisiers were called upon to supply royal and princely castles with artistic furniture, the accounts of which have come down to us. We find not only carved oak, but also tables inlaid with ebony and ivory. The chief feature, however, of interior decoration during the fourteenth century was the hangings. The Genoese and Venetians still had a monopoly of the trade with the Levant; and Europe was supplied by the Italians with Oriental rugs, tablecloths and hangings. The Flemish looms also produced rich stuffs for upholstery and chamber hangings, which were often sumptuously embroidered.

Through the fourteenth century, wood-carving kept pace with the lovely stone sculpture of the cathedrals. We learn there was no light furniture in palace or castle, but that even in the lady’s chamber there were only benches, trestles, forms, faldstools and armchairs. The 8wood-carver carved these with a mass of bas-reliefs and bosses; the carpenters surrounded them with panelling; and the artists painted them red and decorated them with white rosettes.

In studying the arts and crafts of the Middle Ages, we must always bear in mind the fact that art was not specialized. The workmen were thoroughly trained, and their artistic talents had free play. We find many men who were at once architects, sculptors, painters, goldsmiths and image-makers. This condition existed till the middle of the seventeenth century.

In the Middle Ages, the carpenter made the household furniture which formed an integral part of the dwelling; and he was quite capable of giving to it the Gothic ornamentation in vogue.

It was not till the fourteenth century that the increase of luxury and the progress of the arts demanded a division of labour; and that the huchiers and joiners formed separate bodies from the carpenters. The huchiers, who then became exclusively what we should now call joiners and cabinet-makers, devoted their attention especially to all that required ornate treatment in carving, such as doors, windows, shutters and panelling, as well as chests, benches, bedsteads, chairs, dressers and wardrobes. These were largely fixtures and formed part of the permanent woodwork of a hall, or bedroom. The mouldings and other ornaments were carved directly out of the oak, and not applied.

Plate II.Bedroom (Fifteenth Century).

Fig. 1: Aiguière (Fifteenth Century); Fig. 2: Aiguière (Fourteenth Century); Fig. 3: Bracket Candlestick; Fig. 4: Bed, Chair, and Stool (Fourteenth Century); Fig. 5: Bahut and Chair (Fifteenth Century).

Before the great artists of the Netherlands arise, we must go to the miniatures of early manuscripts in order to form a correct idea of a Mediaeval interior. We 9usually find a very simple arrangement of furniture, which consists of a bed, a bench, an armchair and some kind of dressoir, or sideboard. The floor is tiled, or tessellated; and sometimes the bed stands on a rug or carpet, which also covers part of the adjoining floor space. The windows with small leaded panes are supplied with shutters of two or three wings: these are sometimes covered with leather fastened with large brass-headed nails. The chimney-piece is always wide and high; the funnel shape of this occurs in the earliest examples. The shelf above the opening is usually adorned with glass, plate or earthenware. The armchair stands beside, or near, the bed; the dressoir is close by; and the settle is beside, or sometimes in front of, the fire. The bed is often nothing but a long chest on short legs with a mattress and pillows on top; and this is moved out in front of the fire in case of need. The curtains and canopy are suspended by cords from the rafters, as is also the chandelier.

This same arrangement of furniture occurs in a picture of the Salutation angélique in the Louvre, by an unknown Flemish painter: it has been attributed both to Lucas van Leyden and Memling. This room, reproduced in Plate II, is one of the middle class at the end of the fifteenth century. The walls are bare, the ceiling shows open rafters of natural wood, and the floor is tiled. The panes of the windows are leaded, and the inner shutters, which are trebly hinged so as at need to fold into the thickness of the wall, are, moreover, divided in two parts, so that only the top may be opened if needed. The other window has a window seat. The high chimneypiece 10is furnished with the lateral shelves in use throughout Mediaeval times from the twelfth century onward. The chimney diminishes in size as it rises, like an inverted funnel. In summer time, when the fire was not needed, the fireplace was masked by a wooden screen to prevent draughts. In front of this, with its back to the screen, was placed the high-backed settle, which in winter faced, or was placed laterally to the cheerful blaze of the hearth. The bench shown in this picture is made of plain boards, with a little plain Gothic carving below the seat. For comfort, it is supplied with three red cushions. The bed, which is raised on a low platform, is also furnished with red curtains, bolster and counterpane. The tester is suspended by cords from the ceiling. Beside the head of the bed is a chair, and next to that a credence, which is used as a wash-hand stand. On it are placed a ewer and shallow basin. These, and the brass chandelier hanging above, are of the manufacture of Dinant, a metal ware known all over Europe under the name of Dinanderie. The chandelier has six branches, each a grotesque form of some animal, and the top of it is surmounted by the figure of a seated quadruped. It is raised and lowered by a pulley and chain.

The ewer, or aiguière, standing on the credence, is an excellent specimen of Dinanderie of the fifteenth century; it has a double spout, as shown in Fig. 1. Other examples of Dinanderie of this period are represented in Fig. 2, a grotesque aiguière; and Fig. 3, a bracket candlestick of very graceful form.

Dinanderie became celebrated as early as the thirteenth century. Although made at first in Dinant, its manufacture 11spread throughout the valley of the Meuse, and Dinantairs were established in various cities and towns in the Netherlands, Germany, England and France. In 1380, one Jehan de Dinant, living at Rheims, furnished some articles to the King. Among the copper and brass ware delivered at this period to the royal household and to the establishments of other great personages by this workman, we find all kinds of kitchen articles, cooking utensils, stoves of all sizes, wash-basins, kettles for heating water for the bath, barbers’ basins, large boilers of all kinds, warming-pans for the beds, candlesticks, chandeliers, and aiguières (ewers).

The permanent woodwork of the apartments in Mediaeval days was furniture, without being “movables,” just like the carved oak in the choir of a cathedral. The panelling contained cupboards and wardrobes; bedsteads were contrived in the timbered lining of the walls; and the woodwork readily lent itself to the adaptation of window seats, settles and benches. It may easily be understood how the woodwork of a room might conceal a whole series of shelves to which sliding panels, or panels opening outwards as doors, gave access. These various compartments served as cabinets for curios, bookcases, glass and plate cupboards, wardrobes and larders. When one of these compartments was made as a separate piece of furniture to stand by itself out against the flat wall of a room, it was called a cabinet, or armoire. As late as the middle of the seventeenth century, however, the armoire was generally part of the fixed woodwork. Relai was another name for it. Thus in 1635, Monet defines armoire, armaire, aumoire as a 12reservoir pratique en la muraille à servir et garder tout chose”; and Cotgrave (1673) has: “Relai” as “armaire, a hole or box contrived in or against a wall.”

The plain box, or chest, was the origin of all the developments of Mediaeval furniture. It had many uses: it contained the treasures and valuables of the lord; it was used as a packing-case or trunk for travelling; with supports at the four corners and back, and arms added above, it served as a chair or settle, with a seat that could be lifted on hinges; raised also on legs and supplied with a daïs, it became a dressoir, credence, or sideboard; chest-upon-chest superimposed, developed into the elaborate armoire; and, finally, supplied with a head and foot rail and made comfortable with mattress or pillows, it served as a bed.

In the old manuscripts of the Middle Ages, we find many illustrations of the developments of the chest and its various uses. Fig. 4 shows a long chest with short solid legs on which bedding is laid, and over which a canopy with curtains has been raised. By its side is a chair, the seat of which is manifestly the lid of a small chest. The chest-bed and chair stand on a carpet: the floor is tiled. The shape of the pillow is characteristic of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The carving of the panels in bed and chair show the “linen fold,” which was so popular in the Netherlands and which was laid in even more intricate folds by the English carvers. Gothic tracery in furniture, in combination with the “linen-fold” is shown in the chair of Fig. 5, which exhibits also another chest, or bahut. The original illustration shows flames leaping up the chimney, against 13which the bed is closely placed. The cushions, with heavy tassels at each corner, are similar in shape to those in Fig. 4.

There were several varieties of the chest, known by various names, such as huche, bahut and arche. The huche usually had a flat top: it was the oldest and simplest form—a plain oblong box. As time wore on the huche gave its name to the cabinet-makers (the huchiers) of the Middle Ages. They made windows, doors, panels, shutters, bancs, bahuts, armoires, credences, and whatever else was required; and the guild of huchiers was one of the largest corporations of the period.

The huchiers were particularly distinguished for their execution of choir-stalls and splendid carving. The huche, at first a very simple piece of furniture, was later decorated with beautiful paintings and rich carvings; moreover, it was enriched and strengthened with chiselled and pierced iron hinges and locks.

The chests until the thirteenth century were works of simple carpentry. The faces consist of plain surfaces which are ornamented with paintings on linen or leather; and further adorned with hinges and clamps of pierced and wrought metal.

The bancs, benches or settles, were made in the Middle Ages by the huchiers. They were made of planks and often had backs and arms. In the fifteenth century, they were enriched with sculpture and surmounted by a canopy or daïs. They were also called formes or bancs d’œuvre. The Cluny Museum possesses many fine examples of this period, both civil and religious. 14In the halls and bedrooms of the Mediaeval châteaux the banc is often seen placed laterally before the wide chimney-piece, and its high back was very useful in keeping off the draughts. It may be thought that their rigid form and absence of upholstery rendered them uncomfortable, but the numerous soft cushions with which they were supplied quite atoned for the absence of upholstery. (See Plate II.)

The chief use of the Mediaeval sideboard was the display of ornate plate, crystal and similar articles. The kitchen dresser with its shelves holding plates and dishes set upright against the wall is a lineal descendant of the old dressoir. The shelves of the dressoir were regulated by etiquette: every noble person could have a dressoir with three shelves; others, only two; royalty had four and five.

According to some authorities, the difference between the dressoir and the buffet is simply this: the dressoir was intended to display the articles taken from the buffet, and had no drawers and no cupboard; the buffet, on the other hand, contained both drawers and cupboards. The buffet of our dining-rooms and our cellarets that close with lock and key, are therefore survivals of the credence of the Middle Ages.

Sometimes the credence and dressoir were combined in one piece, or rather the dressoir served as a credence. A small one shown in the illuminated MS. of the Histoire de Gérard, Comte de Nevers, has but one shelf, upon which the silver platters are arranged, leaning against the back, which is covered with some kind of fabric. The cupboard serving as a credence is covered with a cloth on which are placed three silver ewers—aiguières. This was, therefore, more of a buffet than a dressoir, for the real dressoir, as we have seen, was composed of shelves (gradins) and had a back (dorsal), or sometimes a daïs of stuff or sculptured wood.

Plate III.Flemish Dressoir (Fifteenth Century).

Figs. 6–7: Dressoirs (Fifteenth Century); Fig. 8: Table on Trestles; Fig. 9: Metal Chair.

15Varieties of the dressoir of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries appear in Plate III, and Figs. 6 and 7; and a credence of the fifteenth century of Gothic decoration from the Cluny Museum, Paris, on Plate IV.

The Mediaeval table was a simple affair, with either fixed or movable supports. In nine cases out of ten, either in hall or cottage, it consisted simply of a board and trestles. In court and castle, kings and nobles sat only on one side, the other being left free for service, and for a clear view of the mummers, jongleurs and minstrels who entertained the company during the feast. These boards and trestles could be readily folded up and packed away in carts for travelling. A good example of the fifteenth century table of this construction occurs in a picture of Mary Magdalen at the feet of Jesus, by Derick Bouts (1410–1475). This is represented in Fig. 8.

We have seen that the chest with its various developments—chair, bench, bed and dressoir—furnished the Mediaeval chamber. The ordinary hall contained merely a plain buffet and a table, consisting of boards and trestles, with simple forms for seats. Chairs there were none, except for the lord and honoured guests at the head of the board. It must not be supposed, however, that there was no attempt at comfort or decoration in the homes of the Middle Ages. It would be difficult 16to attach too much importance to the use of cushions and hangings.

We have already seen one form of chair in Figs. 4 and 5, which show a box with a lid for the seat, on which is a cushion. This chair has arms and a high panelled back. The common stool, faldstool, or escarbeau also appears in Fig. 4. The rigid square high-backed chair, however, was not the only form known in the Middle Ages. The type represented in Fig. 9 was in great favour. This chair is reproduced from a miniature by Jehan de Bruges (fl. 1370). This form of chair, with curved lines in the back, arms and supports, was a great favourite, not only in the Netherlands, but throughout Europe for several centuries. Sometimes it was made of wood, and carved on the extremities of the back, arms and legs; and sometimes it was made of wrought metal, brass, silver and even gold. In the latter case it was probably plated. Sometimes the inventories mention chairs of great value and very precious workmanship. Some of them were even ornamented with enamel. These were the work of the orfèvre. Brass and copper chairs of this type were made in large numbers by the skilful smiths of Dinant. Naturally they were comfortably and sumptuously upholstered. An inventory of 1328 contains an item of a chair of copper garnished with velvet.

Flanders was always famous for its woven stuffs: wool was the staple on which its prosperity depended. The Duke of Burgundy recognized this when he chose the Golden Fleece as the emblem of his great Order of Knighthood. Apart from the looms, the art of the 17needle was also held in high esteem; and ladies of high and low estate devoted much of their time to embroidery.

Everything was embroidered: vestments and cloths for the church; shoes, gloves, hats and clothes of men and women; and cushions and draperies for the house. Notwithstanding the lavish use of tapestry, the taste for embroidered materials was ever on the increase. The entire furnishings for a bedroom were often the product of the needle; for instance, the “embroidered chamber” of Jane of Burgundy, Queen of Philip V, at her coronation at Rheims in 1330, was ornamented with 1321 parrots, with the arms of the King, and 1321 butterflies, with the arms of Burgundy.

In Mediaeval days, the word “chambre” had a broader signification than it has to-day. By chambre was meant the whole of the rugs, curtains, hangings and upholstery that adorned a bedroom. There was a distinction drawn between “court pointerie” and “tapisserie.” “Court pointerie” included everything pertaining to the bed, such as the daïs, mattress, head-board, etc. The “tapisserie” was changed every season like the altar cloths and vestments of church and clergy. Cords were run across the rafters, and the curtains and canopies were hung on these with hooks. Thus the rooms at the various seasons received such names as the “Easter,” “Christmas,” or “All Saints’ Chamber.” Then again the rooms were named after the subjects (mythological, historical, romantic or religious), of the tapestry that adorned them, such as the Chamber of the Cross, of the Lions, of the Conquest of England, of Queen 18Penthesile, of the Nine Paladins, of the Unicorn and Maiden, etc., etc.

Plate II shows how the canopy and curtains of the bed were usually supported. Sometimes, however, the hangings were attached to the rods by means of tenterhooks.

The inventories and chronicles of the Middle Ages frequently mention textiles; but it is difficult to know from the numerous terms the old scribes employ whether they are describing woollen and silk tapestry, brocades, damasks, velvets, or embroidered material. The fabrics are of many varieties, and their names vary with the details of production and places of manufacture, as well as the material of which they are composed, and the subjects they depict.

A great deal of Byzantine tapestry, with other hangings and carpets, was brought into Western Europe, by those returning from the First Crusade (1096–1099); and after 1146, when Count Robert of Sicily brought home from his expedition into Greece some captive silk-workers, and established a manufactory for brocades and damasks at Palermo, beautiful materials were carried northward from Italy.

During the early centuries the use of tapestry was very extensively devoted to the decoration of churches, and therefore represented scenes from the Scriptures, and lives of the Saints and the Virgin.

Cathedrals and monasteries were very rich in hangings of tapestry, brocades, and embroideries of various kinds, as well as stuffs on which ornaments were laid and sewn. About 985, the Abbot Robert of the monastery 19of Saint Florent of Saumur, ordered a number of curtains, carpets, cushions, dossers and wall-hangings, all of wool; and, moreover, had two large pieces of tapestry made in which silk was introduced, and on which lions and elephants were represented upon a red background.

In 1133, another Abbot of the same monastery had two dossers made to hang in the choir during festivals. On one of these the twenty-four elders of the Apocalypse with citharas and viols were depicted. The hangings he got for the nave, represented centaurs, lions and other animals.

On all festal occasions, the cathedrals were beautifully decorated with superb tapestries. Some of them served as hangings and door-curtains, others draped the altars, while the seats and backs of the benches were covered with pieces called bancalia, spaleriae, and dossalia. Tapestries also covered the baldachins, or canopies; and foot-carpets, called substratoria, tapetes, tapeta, or tapecii were lavishly spread upon the ground.

During the thirteenth century tapestries came into general use for hangings in private mansions. It is not unlikely that Baldwin, Count of Flanders, who came into power in 1204, stimulated the work of the Netherland looms; for, from the very opening years of the thirteenth century, the Flemish weavers adopted brighter colours in their tapestries; and Damme, the poet of Bruges, received all kinds of goods from the East, including “seeds for producing the scarlet dye.”

This was the period when the Roman was in full flower, and the tapestries naturally turned from Biblical to heroic stories. The artists and weavers now 20begin to devote their energies to the production of secular subjects. The stories of Paris and Helen, Æneas, and others from Grecian mythology, become as popular as those inspired by the Bible.

High-warp workers were established in Paris, Arras, Brussels and Tournay in the first half of the fourteenth century; but it is not until the reign of Charles V (1364–1380) that they are explicitly described in the inventories. The King was a collector of French and Flemish tapestries: he had more than 130 armorial tapestries and 33 “tapis à images” that decorated the walls.

The Dukes of Anjou, Orleans, Berry and Burgundy, had very valuable sets. Charles VI also had fine pieces. He bought from Nicholas Bataille, a Flemish worker, who calls himself a citizen of Paris in 1363, about 250 hangings. Bataille produced many superb pieces for the wealthy houses of the day, and many sets for Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. A fellow-worker, Jacques Dourdain, who died in 1407, made tapestries for the Duke of Burgundy, to whom he sent in 1389 The Conquest of the King of Friesland by Aubri the Burgundian, The Story of Marionet, Ladies setting out for the Chase, The Wishes of Love, The Nine Amazons, The History of Bertrand Duguesclin, and A History of the Romance of the Rose. The latter must have been very choice, as it was woven “in gold of Cyprus and Arras thread.” He also furnished this rich patron with other hangings, the greater number of which were cloth of gold.

The marriage of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, to the daughter and heir of the Count of Flanders, in 1369, greatly helped the Flemish tapestry-workers, 21who soon equalled those of Paris. For instance, the Duke gave an order to Michel Bernard of Arras for a fine piece, called The Battle of Rosbeck, of colossal dimensions. It measured 285 square yards, and cost 2,600 francs d’or. Other sets purchased from the Arras looms were: The Coronation of Our Lady, The Seven Ages, Story of Doon de la Roche, History of King Pharaoh and the People of Moses, Life of St. Margaret, The Virtues and Vices, History of Froimont de Bordeaux, Story of St. George, Story of Shepherds and Shepherdesses, Life of St. Anne, Story of Percival the Gaul, Hunt of Guy of Romany, History of Amis and Amile, History of Octavius of Rome, History of King Clovis, History of King Alexander, and of Robert the Fusileer, History of William of Orange, and a Pastoral.

The Flemish looms thus early acquired a great reputation, rivalling those of the midland and northern provinces of France. Paris, Arras, Brussels and Tournay were the chief centres for the most beautiful high-warp tapestry. Arras was celebrated as early as 1311, when Marchaut, Countess of Artois, paid a large sum for “a woollen cloth worked with various figures bought at Arras”; and in 1313 she ordered from the same town “five cloths worked in high warp.” The name became generic: the Italians called all woven tapestries Arazzi; the Spaniards, Panos de raz; and the English, “Arras,” a name that was used for many centuries. Polonius hides “behind the arras,” in Hamlet, and Spenser, in The Faerie Queen, says:

Thence to the hall, which was on every side
With rich array and costly arras dight.
Book I., Canto iv.

22Agnes Sorel owned a superb specimen at her Château de Beauté in 1350. It is described as “a large piece of Arras, on which are pictured the deeds and battles of Judas Maccabaeus and Antiochus, and stretches from one of the gables of the gallery of Beauté to the other, and is the same height as the said gallery.”

During the troublous times in France under Charles VI, the Paris looms ceased to work, and Flanders supplied all the tapestry that came to France. In 1395, the Duke of Orleans orders his treasurer to deliver to Jaquet Dordin, “merchant and bourgeois of Paris,” 1,800 francs for “three pieces of high-warp tapestry of fine Arras thread.”

Leather was also extensively used during the Middle Ages for interior decoration: it was hung upon the walls and beds; it was spread upon the floors; and it covered the seats and backs of chairs, coffers, cabinets, shelves, folding stools, frames, frames for mirrors, and all kinds of boxes both large and small. In 1420, we hear of a piece of Cordovan called cuirace vermeil “to put on the floor around a bed,” and also a “chamber hanging” of “silvered cuir de mouton, ornamented with red figures.” Charles V of France had “fifteen cuirs d’Arragon to put on the floor in summer,” and the Duke of Burgundy’s inventory of 1427 mentions “leathers to spread in the chamber in summer time.”

The Duke of Berry had twenty-nine great cuirs among his possessions, which were used to cover the walls, beds and chairs.

Leather made a very sumptuous, durable and decorative wall-hanging. The patterns of flowers, foliage, 23arms, devices and other figures were richly gilded, and stood out in high relief from the brilliant backgrounds of red, blue, green, orange, violet, brown or silver. Although the use of gilded leather (cuirs dorés) did not become general until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the art of gilding, silvering, painting and goffering leather had long been known. It is more than probable that the First Crusaders brought home specimens; but it is certain that Cordova was making beautiful gilded leathers in the eleventh century. The most beautiful, as well as the most beautifully worked, leathers came from Spain, where they were often called Guadameciles, from Ghadames in Africa where they were prepared for many years, and from which town the Moors carried the art into Cordova. Ebn’ Abd el Noûr el Hamîri el Toûnsi (of Tunis), in his geographical work written in the twelfth century, thinks it worth while to mention that the djild el Ghadâmosi comes from Ghadames. The monk, Theophilus, in his Diversarum artium Schedula shows how well Arabian leather was known, and describes the methods of preparing it for decoration; but from what he says it appears that leather was used at that period only for the coverings of chairs, stalls, benches, stools, etc., and not for wall-hangings.

From Cordova the manufacture spread into Portugal, Italy, France and Brabant. The great centres for gilded leathers in the Middle Ages were Cordova, Lille, Brussels, Liège, Antwerp, Mechlin and Venice; and each town impressed a special style upon its productions, which connoisseurs are able to recognize.

The Cordovan leathers are stamped with patterns 24of very high relief, gilded and painted, the designs consisting of branches or large flowers in the style of the textiles of Damascus and India. The South Kensington Museum has a very fine collection of Spanish leathers ornamented with foliage, flowers, vases, birds and pomegranates. The colours of the background are green, blue, white, gold, red, etc.

The Flemish leathers are very similar to those of Cordova, but the relief is less pronounced and the designs are more delicate. The hangings of Flanders are almost exclusively made of calfskin, and they were highly prized throughout Europe.

Generally speaking, the earliest specimens of gilded leathers resemble on a large scale the miniatures in the manuscripts: there is little or no perspective, and the subjects are like those of the contemporary tapestry drawn from sacred or mythological stories. The details of the faces, ornaments, costumes, arms, etc., are stamped by hand-work and finished with a brush; and the background, instead of representing sky, is ornamented by guilloches (twisted bands) in gold and colour, applied by means of a goffering iron.

The Low Countries were almost as celebrated for their orfèvrerie as for their tapestries. Celebrated schools of goldsmith’s work existed in the Netherlands during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Waulsort under the direction of d’Erembert, in Stavelot and in Maestricht; and the diocese of Liège had an important atelier for enamel-work in the twelfth century. A very skilful goldsmith named Godefroid de Clerc worked in the town of Huy in the first half of the thirteenth century, 25and another was Friar Hugo, who made in the Abbaye d’Oignies the famous pieces now in the treasury of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Namur.

The principal towns of Flanders, Ghent, Bruges, Tournay, Liège and Brussels, possessed in the thirteenth century skilful goldsmiths who followed the principles of the School of the Rhine. In 1266, the Brussels goldsmiths formed an important Corporation to which John III, Count of Hainault, granted privileges. It was in the fourteenth century particularly that the Flemish goldsmiths acquired a great reputation.

A great deal of the goldsmith’s work during these centuries was ornamented with niello, the style of decoration following the Rhenish School.

The goldsmiths were sculptors, chisellers and engravers, as well as designers; and, moreover, modelled beautifully in wax. When their works were cast in silver, they ornamented these themselves with beaten bas-reliefs, or traced delicate patterns upon the surface of the metal with the burin. Wishing to make the figures stand out more prominently, they used cross-hatchings on the background and cut out the shadowy parts, which they then filled with black enamel. This made the uncovered portions of the silver shine with more brilliancy. To this effective work was given the name niello (nigellum), on account of its colour. This black enamel was used to ornament the chalices and other church vessels, the hilts of swords, handles of knives, and particularly the handsome little coffers, or cabinets, which, with the bahut, comprised the furniture that the bride always carried to her new 26home. These little boxes were usually of ebony, ornamented more or less with incrustations of ivory, shell, mother-of-pearl, pietra-dura, or niello, according to the wealth of the respective families. When decorated with niello, the designs consisted of simple ornaments or arabesques, single figures or groups.

Western Europe made no glass in Mediaeval days: what was used in church and castle all came from the East. In the early inventories, whenever an object of coloured glass is found, it is always accompanied by a mention of its Oriental origin. It is doubtful whether even plain glass was manufactured in England, France, Germany or the Netherlands before the close of the Crusades. The efforts made as late as the fourteenth century by several French and German princes to attract glass-blowers to their dominions shows how scarce they were.

In 1338, we find a feudal noble giving a portion of his forest to a certain Guionet, who was acquainted with the methods of glass-making, to set up a glass factory, on condition of supplying his house every year with one hundred dozen bell glasses, twelve dozen little vase-shaped glasses, twenty dozen hanaps, or cups with feet, twelve amphorae, and other objects. As in all the other industrial arts, Flanders was well to the fore in the manufacture of plain glass. Before 1400, glass factories existed there; but the products were only white glass, not gilded nor enamelled. The Flemish wares, however, were highly prized, and were freely exported to other countries. In 1379, we find in the inventory of Charles V of France: “Ung gobelet 27et une aiguière de voirre blant de Flandres garni d’argent.”

To have glass mounted in silver shows how precious it was considered in those days. Moreover, the royal accounts of the end of the fourteenth century prove that Charles VI accorded high protection and recompense to the Flemish glass-blowers who established their industry in France. Before the end of the fifteenth century, we find entries that would seem to show that the Low Countries were no longer exclusively dependent on the Orient for coloured and enamelled glass. In the inventory of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1477), we read: “Une coupe de voirre jaune garny d’or; ... une couppe de voirre vert garny d’or; ... un pot de voirre de couleur vert, garny d’or; ... un aiguière de voirre vert torssé garny d’or; ... deux petis pots de voirre bleu espez, garnis d’argent doré; ... ung voirre taillé d’un esgle, d’un griffon et d’une double couronne garny d’argent.” These, however, may have come from Venice, which city had in the latter half of the fifteenth century learned from the Greeks the secret of making coloured, gilded and enamelled glass.

Painting on glass was never held in higher honour than during the fifteenth century: castles and mansions were adorned with coloured windows like the churches; and, therefore, a considerable number of windows of this period have survived. The Cathedrals of Tournay, Dietz and Antwerp offer splendid examples. In M. Levy’s Histoire de la peinture sur verre, are the names of several Flemish glass-painters that have escaped oblivion.

The principal schools that fostered all forms of 28Decorative Art were the Guilds of St. Luke. They sprang up in every prosperous city, and were very close corporations of trades unionism. The idea probably originated in Italy. A Society of St. Luke was established in Venice before 1290, and another in Florence in 1349. One Gerard de Groote organized a brotherhood of this kind in Cologne in the fourteenth century; and Societies of St. Luke were founded in Flanders in the fifteenth century. These Guilds exerted the greatest influence upon taste and skill, for in these Societies of Guilds of St. Luke, side by side with the Masters of Painting and Sculpture, were placed what we may call the Masters of the Decorative Arts. There were workers in stone and marble including mosaics in colour for the decoration of churches and chapels; workers in enamel and ceramics for vases, panelling and pavements; workers in wood, sculptors and carvers for the altar fronts, canopies, choir stalls, etc. (these menuisiers also worked in marquetry and intarsie, and produced furniture for the sacristy, coffers, bahuts, etc., and pontifical seats); glass-workers who produced windows, panels and embroideries with glass beads for decoration; metalworkers, including goldsmiths, bronze-workers, who made sacred vessels, luminaries, fonts ornamented with repoussé-work, chiselling, engraving, incrustation with precious stones and niello-niellure; leather-workers (including makers of harness for wars and tourneys); gilders, setters of jewels; bookbinders; illuminators and painters of manuscripts; weavers and embroiderers of tapestries, silken stuffs, etc.

Society benefited by development of these arts very 29greatly, and the sumptuous adornment of the churches soon extended to private dwellings. Carved panels, or panels inlaid with precious woods, soon decorated the walls of wealthy houses that were further enriched by magnificent tissues of silk and gold, tapestries or panels of stamped leather as a background for pictures beautifully framed in carved and gilt wood. In marquetry furniture, the most remarkable objects were the coffers for jewels, and the cabinets (stipi), in ebony, shell and ivory, embellished with gilt, bronze, and the dower chests, “arches de mariage.”



The luxurious Dukes of Burgundy—Possessions of the House of Burgundy—The Burgundian Court—Household of Philip the Good—the Feast of the Pheasant—the Duke of Burgundy at the Coronation of Louis XI—Arras Tapestries—Sumptuous Dressoirs and their Adornments—Celebrations in honour of the Knights of the Golden Fleece—Luxury of Charles the Bold—Charles the Bold at Trèves—Furnishings of the Abbey of Saint-Maximin—Charles the Bold’s Second Marriage—Furnishings of the Banqueting Hall at Bruges—Descriptions by Olivier de la Marche—Aliénor of Poitier’s Descriptions of the Furniture of the Duchess of Burgundy’s Apartments—Rich Dressoirs—the Drageoir and its Etiquette—the Etiquette of the Escarbeau—Philip the Bold’s Artisans—Flemish Carving—the Forme or Banc—Burgundian Workmanship—Ecclesiastical Work—Noted Carvers—Furniture of the Period—the “Golden Age of Tapestry”-Embroideries—Tapestry-weavers of the Low Countries—Introduction of Italian Cartoons—Goldsmiths’ Work—Furniture of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.

The most luxurious prince of his age was Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1342–1404), son of John the Good, King of France. By its alliances, conquests and inheritances, the House of Burgundy attained such wealth and power as to overshadow the French throne itself. Under his grandson, Philip the Good, the Burgundian Court displayed greater splendour than any other in Europe. The reigning dukes were powerful protectors of the arts. Their immense resources, 32drawn from the Flemish hives of industry, enabled them to indulge their taste for architecture, painting, sculpture, illuminated books, tapestry, goldsmiths’ work and sumptuous furniture. They were also insatiable collectors of everything that was curious and rare. Any able artist, sculptor, architect, goldsmith, or image-maker, driven from home by the perpetual civil wars in England, France and Italy, was sure of refuge and employment at the Court of Burgundy. Thus, for a century and a half, the Low Countries were the most important art centre of Europe. Dijon and Brussels, the capitals of the Burgundian dominions, were Meccas of Mediaeval Art; and Tournay, Bruges, Ypres, Ghent, Dinant, and many other industrial centres swarmed with craftsmen who produced all that was luxurious and beautiful for domestic comfort and decoration.

The house of Burgundy constantly increased its possessions. Some idea of its power is gained by a list of Philip the Good’s titles. He was Duke of Burgundy, of Brabant, of Lothier, of Luxembourg; Count of Flanders, of Artois and of Burgundy; Palatine of Hainault, of Holland, of Zeeland, of Namur and of Charolais; Marquis of the Holy Empire; and Lord of Friesland, of Salins and of Mechlin.

The brilliance and luxury of the Burgundian Court are attested by many chroniclers. The pages of Philip de Comines, Olivier de la Marche, and others are full of descriptions of feasts and pageantry from which we can form an idea of the luxurious appointments of the palatial dwellings of the day. Foreigners also, who 33were well acquainted with other European courts, bore witness to Burgundian splendour. One of these, Leo von Rozmital, who visited the courts of Europe in 1465–7, saw the Duke of Burgundy’s treasures. His suite was overpowered by the magnificence. The scribe, Tetzel, tried to enumerate and describe these marvels, but gave up the task in despair, noting “there was nothing like it in the whole world and that it far exceeded the Venetian collection.”

The son and successor of John the Fearless, Philip the Good (1396–1467), was even more luxurious than his grandfather, Philip the Bold. His Court was unequalled in Europe, and when in attendance upon the King of France, his retinue completely eclipsed royalty. His palaces in Brussels, Dijon and Paris were sumptuously furnished; and his collections of tapestries, silver, gold, jewels, embroideries, illuminated manuscripts and printed books excited the admiration of the travellers and chroniclers of the age. His household, composed of four great divisions—the Panetrie, Échansonnerie, Cuisine and Écurie, with subordinate departments, was subject to the strictest rules of etiquette and was adopted as a model by the Spanish sovereigns of the sixteenth century. The ceremonies of the levee, procession, council, audience, service of spices, banquet, etc., were selected as precedents for Vienna and Paris, as well as Madrid.

One of Philip’s most celebrated banquets—the Feast of the Pheasant, which took place at Lille in 1454—will serve to give a glimpse of the Court entertainments in his day. The large hall was hung with tapestry representing the labours of Hercules, and was encircled by 34five tiers of galleries for the spectators. The dressoir of enormous size was adorned with gold and silver vessels, and on either side of it stood a column. One of these had attached to it a carved female figure from whose breast flowed a fountain of hippocras; and to the other was fastened by an iron chain a live lion from Africa, a great curiosity in those days. The three great tables were covered with the most ingenious productions of the cooks, confectioners and machinists. “On a raised platform at the head of the first table sat the Duke. He was arrayed with his accustomed splendour—his dress of black velvet serving as a dark ground that heightened the brilliancy of the precious stones, valued at a million of gold crowns, with which it was profusely decked. Among the guests were a numerous body of knights who had passed the morning in the tilting-field, and fair Flemish dames whose flaunting beauty had inspired these martial sports. Each course was composed of forty-four dishes, which were placed on chariots painted in gold and azure, and were moved along the tables by concealed machinery.” As soon as the company was seated, the bells began to peal from the steeple of a huge pastry church with stained windows that concealed an organ and choir of singers, and three little choristers issued from the edifice and sang “a very sweet chanson.” Twenty-eight musicians hidden in a mammoth pie performed on various instruments, and the fine viands and wines were circulated. After the exhibition of entremets, the pheasant was brought in, the Crusade proclaimed against the Sultan, and the vows registered.

35Another instance of the magnificent display of this Duke occurred when he accompanied Louis XI to Rheims for the ceremony of his coronation in 1461. This is described as follows by the Duke of Burgundy’s chronicler, Georges Chastelain (1403–75):

“Their journey resembled a triumphal procession, in which the Duke of Burgundy appeared as if he were the conqueror and Louis the illustrious captive. The trappings of the horses, that reached to the ground, were of velvet and silk, covered with precious stones and ornaments of gold, embroidered with the Burgundian arms and decorated with silver bells, the jingling of which was very agreeable and solacing. A great number of wagons draped with cloth of gold and hung with banners carried the Duke’s tapestries, furniture, silver and other table service and the utensils for the kitchen. These were followed by herds of fat oxen and flocks of sheep intended for food during the progress of the Duke and his suite. Philip and his son, with the principal nobles, appeared in their greatest magnificence, and were preceded and followed by pages, archers and men-at-arms, all in gorgeous costumes and blazing with jewels.”

Their entrance into Rheims was regarded as the most superb spectacle France had ever witnessed. Louis was crowned by the Duke of Burgundy, “the dean of the peers of France”; and at the banquet that followed the coronation, the Duke of Burgundy was still the most conspicuous figure. The same chronicler continues:

“Though the King sat at the head of the table, 36arrayed in regal attire, with the crown upon his head, he was still the guest of his fair uncle, whose cooks had provided the dinner, whose plate was displayed upon the sideboards and whose servants waited upon the company. In the midst of the repast, the doors were opened and porters entered bearing a costly present for the new sovereign. Such of the guests as were strangers, except from hearsay, to the splendours of the Burgundian Court, gazed in astonishment at the images, goblets, miniature ships, and other articles of the finest gold and rarest workmanship—amounting in value to more than two hundred thousand crowns—which Philip presented to the King as an emphatic token of his loyalty and good-will.”

Chastelain’s note of the great number of wagons that were required to carry the Duke’s tapestries in his journeyings is of interest. The products of the Flemish looms were highly prized by the Burgundian dukes, and great encouragement was given by them to the best work of this nature.

It was from Arras that they chiefly filled their superb store-chambers in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Arras looms had become famous, far and wide; for, when Philip the Bold’s son was taken prisoner at the Battle of Nicopolis (1396), the Sultan Bajazet said to the Duke of Burgundy’s envoy that he “would be pleased to see some high-warp tapestries worked in Arras and Picardy,” and that “they should represent good old stories.” Philip thereupon sent two pack-horses laden with “high-warp cloths, collected and made at Arras, the finest that could be found on this 37side of the mountains.” The set he chose was The History of Alexander. In 1374, there is an entry in the accounts of the Duke of Burgundy “to Colin Bataille, tapissier et bourgeois de Paris,” for six pieces of tapestry “of Arras workmanship,” with the arms of M. the Duke of Burgundy “to cover the pack-horses of Monseigneur when he travelled.” The favourite subjects produced at Arras were romances of chivalry, such as Charlemagne and his Peers, Doon de la Roche, Baudouin de Sebourg, Percival the Gaul, Renaud de Montauban, Aubri de Bourguignon, etc.; stories from Greek mythology, such as Theseus, Jason, Paris and Helen, The Destruction of Troy, etc.; and contemporary events such as The Battle of Rosbeck, The Battle of Liège, History of Bertrand Duguesclin, The Jousts of St. Denis and The Battle of the Thirty. Hunting scenes and pictures of cavaliers and ladies in everyday life were popular, and stories from the Old and New Testaments, Lives of the Saints and Acts of the Martyrs. Allegory also makes its appearance as a subject for cartoons, such as the Virtues and Vices, the Seven Cardinal Sins, the Tree of Life, Fountain of Youth, etc.

When Philip the Good married Isabella of Portugal, Le Fèvre de Saint Rémy notes that on each side of the hall there was a dressoir twenty feet long on a platform two feet high and well enclosed by barriers three feet high, on the side of which was a little gate for entrance and exit; and both dressoirs had five stages, each two and a half feet high. The three upper tiers were covered and loaded with vessels of fine gold; and the two lower ones with many great vessels of silver gilt.

38Again, Chastelain, describing a banquet given by Philip the Good, says: “The Duke had made in the great hall a dressoir constructed in the form of a round castle, ten steps (degrés) in height filled with gold plate in pots and flagons of various kinds, amounting to 6,000 marks (argent doré) not counting those on the top which were of fine gold set with rich gems of marvellous price.”

The above gives some idea of the importance of the dressoir, which undoubtedly was the most showy piece of furniture in hall or chamber. It often assumed enormous proportions on great state occasions.

A very ornate one of this period is reproduced in Plate III. It is beautifully carved with Gothic tracery, leaf-work, Biblical scenes and personages, and coats-of-arms. It is interesting to compare this with the simple form of Plate IV, which has no intermediate shelf for the display of plate; but is also interesting on account of its carving. This, with its drawers and cupboards, was a most serviceable piece of furniture and must have produced a fine effect in a room when the cupboard head was decked with plate.

The great celebrations in honour of the Knights of the Golden Fleece also offered occasion for the display of the greatest splendour at the Burgundian Court. A veritable army of painters, sculptors, illuminators, carvers and machinists was employed to design and prepare the entremets exhibited during the banquets. Among the huchiers who worked for the banquet given to the Knights of the Golden Fleece in 1453 were Guillaume Maussel and his son, Jacob Haquinet Penon, Jehan Daret and his two companions, and Jehan de Westerhem.

Plate IV.Credence (Fifteenth Century).


39When Charles the Bold (1433–1477) succeeded his father, Philip the Good, in 1467, he maintained his Court with the same state, ceremony and luxury. His daily life was surrounded by pomp and punctilious etiquette. He dined in state every day and was always attended by a retinue of knights, equerries and pages. When he went to war, he always carried rich silver and tapestries, as well as costly viands and wines. The Swiss gained rich spoils after the Battle of Nancy and carried away among other articles of value tapestries which can be seen to-day in Nancy, Berne and other cities.

The meeting of Charles the Bold with the Emperor at Trèves, in 1473, occasioned a great display of magnificence. The far-famed luxury of the Burgundian Court was well exhibited during the eight weeks that the two Courts spent in the Rhenish city. Charles gave the most superb entertainments. The Abbey of Saint Maximin, which the Duke chose for his temporary residence, was fitted up for the occasion with furniture, tapestries, richly embroidered stuffs, gold and silver from his palaces. The great hall was hung with tapestries, and the chair of state for the Emperor, the canopy and the seats for the other great personages on the daïs were covered with rich embroidered hangings. The arms of Burgundy, the insignia of the Golden Fleece and other heraldic decorations were conspicuously displayed. Many of the most valuable ecclesiastical treasures collected by Philip the Good, such as silver images, candlesticks, and crucifixes, and reliquaries of gold 40studded with gems were brought to adorn the altars and shrines of the church; and, in the refectory, an immense dressoir, twenty feet broad, reached from floor to ceiling, its ten receding shelves gleaming with gold and silver plate.

Charles the Bold’s second marriage in 1468 to Margaret of York furnished another occasion for the display of his wealth and magnificence. John Paston, who went to Bruges to attend the wedding, was simply dazzled and overwhelmed by what he saw. Writing to his mother, he says: “As for the Dwkys coort, as of lords, ladys and gentylwomen, knyts, sqwyers and gentylmen, I herd never of non lyek it, save King Artourys cort. And by my trowthe, I have no wyt nor remembrans to wryte to you, half the worchep that is her.”

Passing by the descriptions of jousts and other entertainments, we may note that workmen—painters, decorators and machinists—had been engaged for many months to adorn Bruges fittingly for the nuptial festivities. The streets were hung with tapestries and cloth of gold, triumphal arches were erected at intervals, and at different points along the road the bride was diverted with “Histories,” the joint productions of dramatist, decorator, painter and machinist. The front of the palace was covered with paintings of heraldic devices and magnificent decorations, and behind the palace, in the tennis court, a new banqueting hall was erected for the occasion. This building was a hundred and forty feet long, seventy feet wide and more than sixty feet high. The walls were hung with some of the Duke’s most famous tapestries, one set of which represented 41Jason’s quest of the Golden Fleece; the ceiling was painted, and at every possible place banners and heraldic devices were hung. An enormous dressoir in the centre of the hall displayed on its tiers of shelves an overwhelming exhibition of gold and silver treasures glittering with gems. The tables were arranged lengthwise on either side of the hall, except one reserved for the Duke’s family and the guests of highest rank. This table was placed on a raised platform at the upper end of the hall, and over it was spread a canopy with curtains hanging to the floor, so as to present the appearance of an open pavilion. The chroniclers of the day note that “the hall was lighted by chandeliers in the form of castles surrounded by forests and mountains, with revolving paths on which serpents, dragons and other monstrous animals seemed to roam in search of prey, spouting forth jets of flame that were reflected in huge mirrors, so arranged as to catch and multiply the rays. The dishes containing the principal meats represented vessels, seven feet long, completely rigged, the masts and cordage gilt, the sails and streamers of silk, each floating in a silver lake between shores of verdure and enamelled rocks, and attended by a fleet of boats laden with lemons, olives and condiments. There were thirty of these vessels and as many huge pasties in a castellated shape with banners waving from their battlements and towers; besides tents and pavilions for the fruit, jelly dishes of crystal supported by figures of the same material dispensing streams of lavender and rosewater, and an immense profusion of gold and silver plate.”

42The festivities continued for more than a week. Every day a tournament, banquet and dance took place. At one of the banquets, the decorations were so wonderful that the guests marched around the tables to examine the artistic creations. These consisted of gardens made of a mosaic-work of rare and highly polished stones, inlaid with silver, and surrounded with hedges made of gold. In the centre of each enclosure was placed a tree of gold with branches, foliage and fruit exquisitely enamelled in imitation of orange, pear, apple and other trees. Fountains of variously perfumed waters rendered the air deliciously fragrant.

Olivier de la Marche’s description of the banqueting hall is as follows:

“In this hall were three tables, one of which was placed across the ends of the others. This table, higher than the others, stood upon a platform. The other two tables were placed on the two sides of the hall, occupying the whole length; they were very long and very handsome, and in the centre of the said hall a high and rich buffet in the form of a lozenge was placed. The top of the said buffet was enclosed with a balustrade, and the whole was covered with tapestries and hung with the arms of Monsieur le Duc; and above rose the steps and degrees on which were displayed many vessels, the largest on the lowest, and the richest and smallest on the top shelves; that is to say, on the lowest shelves stood the silver-gilt vessels, and above them the vessels of gold garnished with precious stones, of which he had a great number. On the top of the buffet stood a rich jewelled cup, and on each of the four corners large 43and entire unicorns’ horns, and these were very large and very handsome. These vessels of parade were not to be used, for there were other vessels, pots and cups of silver in the hall and chambers intended for service.”

Turning now from the buffet d’apparat, he describes the “buffet d’usage.” Regarding the service, “The new Duchess was served by the cup-bearer, the carver and the pantler, all English, all knights and men of noble birth, and the usher of the hall cried: ‘Knights to the meat!’ And then they all went to the buffet to fetch the meat, and all the relations of Monsieur and all the knights marched around the buffet in the order of the great house two by two after the trumpeters before the meat.”

We sometimes get a glimpse of a luxurious chamber of the Burgundian Court from Aliénor of Poitiers, who wrote Les Honneurs de la Court. Her testimony is trustworthy, for her mother was maid of honour to the Duchess Isabella, third wife of Philip the Good; and, therefore, she undoubtedly witnessed what she describes. She tells us that the chamber of Isabella of Bourbon, wife of Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais, was very large and contained two beds, separated by a space four or five feet wide. A large ciel, or canopy, of green damask covered both beds; and from it hung curtains of satin which moved on rings, and could completely screen the beds when desired. The lambrequin of the canopy and the curtains were fringed with green silk. On each bed was an ermine counterpane, lined with very fine violet cloth. The chronicler expressly notes that the black tails were left on the fur. “La grande 44chambre” from which the “Chambre de Madame” was entered, called the “chambre de parement,” contained one large bed in crimson satin. The ciel was very richly embroidered with a great gold sun, and “this tapestry was called la chambre d’Utrecht, for it is believed that Utrecht gave it to the Duke Philip,” writes Aliénor, who adds: “The curtains of crimson samite are looped up like those of a bed in which nobody sleeps.” The hangings of the wall were of red silk. At one end of the bolster was a great square cushion of gold and crimson, and by the side of the bed a “large shaggy carpet.”

In each of these rooms there was a handsome dressoir; and our scribe continues: “In the chamber of the Countess de Charolais there was a large dressoir of four beautiful shelves, the whole length of the dressoir, each covered with a cloth; the said dressoir and the shelves filled with vessels of crystal garnished with gold and precious stones, and some of fine gold; for all the richest vessels of Duke Philip were there—pots, cups and beakers of fine gold, and other vessels that are never exhibited except on state occasions. Among other vessels there were on the said dressoir three drageoirs of gold and precious stones, one of which is estimated at 14,000 écus, and another at 30,000 écus. On the back of the dressoir was hung a dorset (dorsal) of cloth of gold and crimson, bordered with black velvet, and on the black velvet was delicately embroidered the device of Duke Philip, which was a gun....

“Item, on the dressoir which was in the chamber of the said lady, there were always two silver candlesticks 45which they called at Court mestiers,[1] in which two lights were always burning, for it was fifteen days before the windows of her room were allowed to be opened. Near the dressoir in a corner was a little low table containing the cups and saucers in which something to drink was served to those ladies who came to see Madame, after they had been offered a dragée[2]; but the drageoir stood upon the dressoir.”

1.  Night candles.

2.  Bonbons.

In the “chambre de parade” there stood a very large dressoir, ornamented with superb pieces of gold and silver.

It was the custom for both lords and ladies to receive their acquaintances informally in the “chambre de parade,” while the inner room was reserved for their intimate friends. On the occasion of a birth, these two rooms were as superbly furnished as the house could afford. The richest cloths and tapestries were brought out, and the dressoir was adorned with articles of gold and silver that were only placed on view on important occasions.

When Mary of Burgundy was born, the same authority informs us that Isabella of Bourbon’s room was very richly furnished; and in honour of Mary of Burgundy, the daughter and heir of Charles the Bold, there were five shelves upon the dressoir, a privilege reserved for queens only.

The drageoir was a very important article. It contained the various “épices de chambre,” generally called dragée, and meaning all kinds of sugar plums and confitures, conserves, sugared rose leaves (sucré rosat), etc. 46A writer in the sixteenth century mentions “Curious dragées of all colours, some in the shape of beasts, others fashioned like men, women and birds.” Sometimes the bonbons were taken with the fingers, as may be seen in one of the fine set of tapestries in the Cluny Museum, representing The Lady and the Unicorn. An attendant kneeling presents the drageoir to the lady, who is standing with a pet bird on her left arm, and she is about to dip the fingers of her right hand into the drageoir to get something to delight the bird.

The drageoir was generally handed to the guests after dinner, and made its appearance at all ceremonial feasts. Froissart, describing the reception to the English knights sent by the King of England in 1390 to negotiate peace in France, says they were entertained at the Louvre, and “when they had dined they retired to the King’s chamber, and there they were served with wine and sweetmeats in large drageoirs of silver and gold.” It was always handed with solemnity, and subject to strict etiquette. The Constable of France had the honour of presenting the drageoir to the King. At the Duke of Burgundy’s Court, according to Olivier de la Marche, the steward handed the drageoir to the first chamberlain, who handed it to the most important personage present, who then presented it to the prince or duke. When the latter had helped himself, the honoured guest returned it to the chamberlain, who gave it to the steward.

Aliénor also informs us: “When one of the princes had served Monsieur and Madame (the Duke and Duchess of Burgundy) with sweetmeats, one of the most important personages, for example, the first chamberlain, or 47Madame’s chevalier d’honneur, took the drageoir and served the Duke’s nephews and nieces; and after they had been served it was handed to everybody.”

The drageoir was one of the most valued and popular presents during the Middle Ages. In the inventory of Margaret of Austria occurs a beautiful and large silver-gilt drageoir, fluted, presented to Madame by the gentlemen of the town of Brussels for her New Year, 1520.

Aliénor de Poitiers also says there should always be in the lady’s room a chair with a back near the bolster of the bed; and that this chair should be covered with silk or velvet, for “velvet is the most honourable covering, no matter what colour”; and “near the chair should be placed a little bench, or stool, covered with a banquier and some silk cushions for visitors to sit on when they call to see the invalid.”

The little stool or bench, called escarbeau, was very low and without back or arms. Sometimes it was triangular in form. Sometimes it served for a low table. Rich people often threw over these bancs a piece of tapestry or silk, known as banquiers.

The memory of the vast majority of the artists of this period has perished, but a few names have survived.

When Philip the Bold built a second St. Denis for his race at Dijon (1390), his art and craftsmen were all drawn from the Low Countries. Nicholas Sluter was in charge; and under his direction the Chartreuse became a veritable Flemish museum of carving. He sent for his nephew, Nicholas van de Werve, and paid him from six to seven shillings per week. Other Flemish 48workmen in his employ were: Jehan Malouel, Hennequin van Prindale, Roger Westerhen, Peter Linkerk, John Hulst, John de Marville, John de Beaumetz and Williken Smout. The coloured windows were made at Mechlin, by Henry Glusomack. The oak retables with their numerous figurines, were the work of a Flemish carver named Baerze of Termonde.

In fact, the only Frenchman who had any part in the work was Berthelot Héliot, “varlet de Monseigneur,” an ivory-carver.

The two retables carved by Jacques de Baerze in 1391 for the Chartreuse are now in the Dijon Museum. One was made for the Duke’s chapel at Termonde (Dendermonde), and the other for the Abbey of Billoche, near Ghent. These were painted and gilded by Jehan Malouel and Melchior Broederlam, who had been engaged by the Counts of Flanders; and worked in Hesdin and Ypres before becoming court-painters to Philip the Bold.

The same Museum contains three cylindrical boxes of beautiful workmanship of the same period. Two of these are ornamented with arabesques and birds painted and gilded; the third is decorated with polychromatic bas-reliefs, and a round boss representing scenes from the New Testament. These boxes are supposed to have belonged to the toilet-tables of the Duchesses of Burgundy. Two retables, ornamented with bas-reliefs in the Cluny Museum are called “oratoires des Duchesses de Bourgogne.” These were bought from Berthelot Héliot, “valet de chambre” of Philip the Bold; and it is thought that they came from Italy.

49Another fine piece of Flemish wood-carving is preserved in the old Salles des Gardes of the Palace in Dijon, where it forms a decoration of the chimney-piece. This is a panel of carved wood, the last remnant of the choir-stalls in the ducal chapel. The centre of the panel was the back of John the Fearless’s seat. The upper part terminating in a pointed arch and bordered with festoons ornamented with foliage surrounds the Duke’s shield, which is supported by two angels. The arms of eight dependent provinces are carved in the lower part of the panel, enlaced in a trellis of mouldings decorated with chicory leaves, and further enriched by four angels playing various instruments.

The Dijon Museum contains another splendid piece of wood-carving of the same date in the seat or forme for the accommodation of the priest, deacon, and subdeacon of the Chartreuse. This was carved in 1395 by John of Liège, a carpenter, for the sum of two hundred and fifty francs, to which another hundred were afterwards added in recognition of the excellence of the work.

The forme is a species of banc divided by arms into stalls like choir-stalls. The forme always had a back which grew larger about the end of the twelfth century, and at a later date, it was surmounted by a daïs. The forme was always considered to be a seat of honour.

John de Marville set to work on the Duke’s tomb in 1383, and in 1388 was succeeded by Claus Sluter, who also executed much important work. In the chapel of the Chartreuse at Dijon, he represented Philip the Bold and the Duchess Margaret kneeling at the feet 50of St. Anthony and St. Anne. In 1404, he retired to the monastery of St. Etienne de Dijon, and was succeeded in his post of “imagier and valet de chambre” to the Duke of Burgundy by his nephew Claes, or Nicholas, van de Werve.

In 1393, Philip the Bold sent his painter, Jehan de Beaumetz, and his sculptor, Claus Sluter, to see the works that his brother, the Duke of Berry, had had André Beauneveu make at the Château Mehun-sur-Yèvre.

Burgundy was especially famous among French provinces for its woodwork. Many masterpieces were created by the Dukes of Burgundy. There were, however, other patrons of this art, the great Abbeys of Clairvaux, Citeaux, Cluny and Vézélay. Numerous schools of workmen gathered around these monasteries, faithfully preserving the traditions of the master-sculptors of the past and bequeathing them to their successors of the Renaissance. A great deal of their most ornate and skilful work was naturally upon the choir-stalls. Those in the Abbey of Charlieu with figures of saints painted on wooden panels (later in the Church of Charolais), and the old Abbaye de Montréal (Yonne) are especially notable.

The Brabant artists perhaps manifested their fertility most in wood-carving. Flanders, during the fifteenth century, produced an enormous number of retables, choir-stalls, pulpits, chairs, tables, communion benches, and similar work. The energies of the skilful wood-carvers found vent in civil as well as ecclesiastical work. The public buildings of the prosperous 51cities contained many beautiful products of the chisel.

The ducal expense accounts that have come down to us contain many entries of payments made to various Flemish joiners and cabinet-makers (huchiers-menuisiers). When the great Halles of Brussels had to be rebuilt in 1409, the following experts were employed to do the work: Louis Van den Broec, Pierre de Staete, Henry and Godefroy den Molensleyer, Adam Steenberch, Henry van Duysbourg, Pierre van Berenberge, Henry van Boegarden and John van den Gance. We find these names employed on other contemporary work. A few years later, Charles de Bruyn executed the wood-carving for the Louvain cathedral. In 1409, John Bulteel of Courtray was commissioned to carve the choir-stalls for the chapel of the oratory of Ghent. Peter van Oost received the order for the ceiling of the town hall of Bruges; and in 1449, W. Ards was carving that of the town hall of Mechlin. In 1470, the great altar-piece of Saint Waltrude in Herentals was executed by B. van Raephorst. In 1459, the beautiful stalls of the Abbey of Tournay, which were unfortunately destroyed by fire in the following century, were carved by Jan Vlaenders.

A noted carver of this age was Jehan Malouel Hennequin van Prindale, who, as we have seen, was in the employ of the Duke of Burgundy. The hands only of a Magdalen that he made (1399–1400) are in the Dijon Museum. This statue was remarkable as having a copper nimbus, or diadem.

The fame of the Flemish wood-carvers spread far 52beyond the confines of their own provinces, and their services were eagerly sought in England, France, Spain, Italy and even Germany.

Although German wood-carvers were plentiful, John Floreins was employed on the choir-stalls of the Cologne Cathedral. In 1465, Flemish huchiers were called upon to carve the stalls of Rouen. Italy attracted many artists whose work still attests their ability. Among the innumerable workers in intaglio and marquetry of that period, we find the names of almost as many Northerners as native Italians. The Church of St. Georgio Maggiore, Venice, contains forty-eight stalls, adorned by Van der Brulh of Antwerp with carved bas-reliefs illustrating the life of St. Benedict. The armoires of the sacristy of Ferrara bear the signatures of Henry and William, two Flemish carvers; and many other examples might be cited.

In Spain, the entire Spanish school, until Berruguete brought the New Art from Michelangelo’s studio in 1520, was led by Philippe Vigarny, a Burgundian, who was considered the best wood-carver in Spain. His style was frankly Gothic.

The influence of the Flemish and French was so great in Spain at this time, that Juan de Arphe severely reprimands his fellow-workers, who never cease copying the “papelas y estampas flamencas y francesas.”

There was not a prosperous city in the Netherlands whose public and private buildings were not embellished with the products of the great artists in wood-carving. The great masters of Bruges were Guyot de Beaugrant, 53L. Glosencamp, Roger de Smet and André Rasch, sculptors and carpenters who executed the chimneypiece in the Palais du Franc in Bruges after the designs of Lancelot Blondeel.

One of the most characteristic specimens of Flemish carpentry-work of the fifteenth century is the oak pew richly carved in the Gothic style (1474), belonging to the Van der Gruuthuuse family in Notre Dame of Bruges that is connected by a passage with the Gruuthuuse Mansion, built in (1465–70).

It is important to keep constantly in mind the fact that at this period architects, sculptors, painters and goldsmiths did not confine themselves to one particular field of labour. Sculptors worked both in wood and stone in both civil and religious buildings, and the best talent was employed equally on retables, choir-stalls, pulpits, bishops’ thrones, armoires, dressoirs, chests and seats. The Duke’s accounts show many entries of payments for elaborate furniture. Two examples will suffice: “June 20, 1399: From the Duke of Burgundy to Sandom, huchier, living in Arras, for a dressoir, with lock and keys, which was placed in the chamber of our very dear and much-loved son Anthoyne, xxxii sols pariis”; and again, “To Pierre Turquet, huchier, living in the said town of Arras, for a bench, a table, a pair of trestles, and for a dressoir with lock and key for our chamber in our abode in the said place, for goods supplied by him four livres pariis.”

The fifteenth century has been called the “Golden Age of Tapestry.” Not only were the halls and chambers of rich lords hung with “noble auncyent stories,” woven 54in silk and wool of the most gorgeous hues and enlivened with shining threads of gold, but the store-rooms were filled with sets that were brought forth to decorate the outsides as well as the interiors of houses on the occasion of some great festival, marriage, tournament, or return of a conqueror from the wars. Wealthy princes often took valuable sets to war to decorate their tents. Charles the Bold, for example, had with him some of his richest treasures, which became the trophies of his Swiss conquerors and are now in Berne.

Owing to her wars, the industries of France had declined, and among them her tapestry. Flanders now, particularly under the patronage of the rich and powerful Dukes of Burgundy, enjoyed the greatest prosperity. Flanders became the centre of the manufacture of tapestry; and Arras, Brussels and Bruges produced works that have never been surpassed.

Every subject lent itself to reproduction. The inventory of a princely but small collector in 1406–7 mentions: A Stag in a Wood, Story of Pyramus and Thisbe, History of the God of Love, History of King Pepin, Hawking, A Lord and Lady playing at Chess, A Trapped Hare, Monkeys, Castles, Parrots, and Verdures. The latter shows how early the beautiful landscapes were valued. Throughout this century the tapestries show charming backgrounds of daisies, violets, strawberries, jessamine, primroses, bellflowers and lovely leaves often scattered in artistic disorder.

The influence of Memling and the Van Eycks and their school was insistent, although comparatively few of their pictures were translated into tapestry. One 55of the pupils of the Van Eycks, Roger van der Weyden, designed many cartoons, among which were the Legend of Trajan and Story of Heckenbald for the Town Hall of Brussels.

The great impetus to the Flemish looms was given by the Dukes of Burgundy. Philip the Bold (1384–1404) encouraged the weavers of Arras by giving orders and large payments in advance. Finally, he owned such a superb collection that he had a special officer, a garde de la tapisserie, to take charge of it.

Philip the Good (1419–1467) inherited this taste for beautiful tapestry and gave numerous orders to the tapestry-makers of Flanders. The inventory of his treasury made in Dijon in 1420, shows that he possessed at the beginning of his reign five chambres of tapestry, each comprising several pieces, and more than seventy high warp “storied” tapestries to ornament the halls and the chapel. Among them was a set of eleven pieces containing portraits of “the late Duke Jehan and Madame his wife on foot and on horseback,” hawking, with birds on their wrists and birds flying all around them. The same prince also had: “A red room of high-warp tapestry woven with gold, on which were represented ladies, pheasants, persons of distinction and rank, nobles, simple folk, and others, with a canopy ornamented with falcons.”

Then there was a rich “chamber,” “with high-warp tapestry of Arras thread, called the chambre of the little children, furnished with the canopy, head-board, and coverlet of a bed, worked with gold and silk, the head-board and coverlet being strewn with trees, grasses, 56and little children, and the canopy representing trails of flowering rose-trees on a red background.”

Another set of “high-warp tapestry, worked in Arras thread and gold” was called “The Chamber of the Coronation of Our Lady.” It was furnished with “a canopy, a head-board, a bed coverlet, and six curtains two of which were worked with gold, and the remaining four without gold. On each of these were two figures, the late Duke Anthony of Brabant and his wife and their children, screened with a small dosser; the whole was of Brabant work.”

In addition to these superb sets, there were sixty “saloon tapestries” in which the hangings woven with gold depicted scenes from famous romances, stories from Grecian mythology, pastoral scenes, and contemporary events.

There were thirty-six dossers, banquiers and thirty-six hassocks, and nineteen long-pile carpets. Then there were thirteen “chapel hangings,” with religious subjects, an altar-cloth “entirely of gold and silk,” besides high-warp tapestries “of gold and Arras thread.”

Philip the Good was also a collector of embroidery. In his inventory (1420) are mentioned many “chambres” of velvet and silk, embroidered with gold and silks. More than thirty famous embroiderers were employed regularly at the Court of Burgundy.

There was no more valuable possession in the Middle Ages than tapestry. When Mary of Burgundy was married to the Duke of Cleves in 1415, one prized item in her dowry was a “superb bed of tapestry representing a deer hunt.”

57Tapestry was considered one of the most complimentary gifts that could be offered to a royal personage, or diplomatist; and when it is remembered that every nobleman of wealth was a collector, a present of this nature had to be of rare quality and exceptional beauty. The Dukes of Burgundy were fond of making gifts from the looms they patronized.

For example, Philip the Bold sent several pieces to Richard II in 1394 and 1395, and superb sets to the Dukes of Lancaster and York. John the Fearless gave the Earl of Pembroke, ambassador of Henry IV, three handsome pieces, and to the Earl of Warwick, ambassador of Henry V, in 1416, “a rich hanging covered with various figures and numerous birds.” In 1414, a “chambre de tapisserie” was sent as a present to Robert, Duke of Albany, who then governed Scotland.

The weavers of Liège boasted as high an antiquity as those of Louvain. The Chronicle of St. Trond says that the weavers in 1133 at St. Trond and Tongres, and they were more independent and high-spirited, or, to quote more exactly, “more forward and proud than other artisans.”

Brussels, which in after years eclipsed both Paris and Arras in the manufacture of tapestries, possessed one corporation only of tapestry-workers (tapitewevers) in 1340. In 1448, these were reorganized under the name of Legwerckers Ambacht (tapestry-weavers trade), but there was no great interest in the Brussels looms until 1466, when Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, bought in that city The History of Hannibal in six pieces and a set of eight landscapes.

58The looms of Ypres, Middelburg, Alost, Lille, Valenciennes, Douay and Oudenarde flourished during the fifteenth century. To this list we must add the fine looms of Bruges, established by Philip the Good, which for a time eclipsed all others in Flanders. After Bruges supplied this Duke of Burgundy with The History of the Sacrament and “two chambers of tapestry” in 1440, many commissions were received from foreign countries. The Medicis and other Italian families ordered rich sets, but they supplied their own cartoons by Andrea Mantegna, Leonardo da Vinci and other great painters.

Bruges, doubtless, owed no little of its fame as a centre for fine tapestry to the Flemish artists, Memling and the Van Eycks and their school who lived there. It is believed that the famous tapestry that found a home in the Château des Aygalades, representing the marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany, under the allegorical figures of Esther and Ahasuerus, was made in Bruges. The cartoons have been attributed to the school of Van Eyck.

In 1449–53, Philip ordered from Tournay The History of Gideon and The Story of the Golden Fleece in eight pieces.

In 1430, one Jean Hosemant, a tapestry-weaver of Tournay, was in Avignon and the Pope’s chamberlain, the Archbishop of Narbonne, ordered him to make “a tapestried chamber on the hangings of which were to be represented foliage, trees, meadows, rivers and clouds, as well as birds and quadrupeds.” Italy also attracted the French and Flemish weavers to learn their secrets, and they flocked in numbers to Rome and other cities. 59Their work was in such demand that the Flemish workers found encouragement everywhere; and in the fifteenth century they emigrated to England, Spain, Italy and even Hungary.

Rinaldo Boteram of Brussels was in charge of the workshop in the court of the Gonzagas in Mantua, where Andrea Mantegna was employed to design the cartoons. Jehan de Bruges and Valentin d’Arras directed the workshops in Venice as early as 1421; Giacomo d’Angelo the Fleming had charge of the Marquis d’Este’s tapestries at Ferrara with a large number of Flemish weavers under him. Flemish workmen and master workmen were engaged in Siena, Florence, Correggio, Urbino and also by the Sforzas in Milan.

A woman was also weaving Arras at Todi in 1468, one Giovanna Francesa, “maestra di panni de arazzi.”

At home, the Flemings grew ever more and more realistic, weaving into their woollen pictures types of character, costumes and scenes with which they were familiar; and while their technical skill was appreciated in Italy, their pictures certainly were not liked. All the orders sent from princely patrons to the looms of the Low Countries were accompanied by cartoons, which became the property of the workshop, and were repeated again and again as their popularity asserted itself. The Italians introduced perspective, clearness of grouping and a dramatic feeling entirely opposed to the Flemish school. The Italian cartoons, particularly those of Raphael and Romano, had a great influence upon the Flemish tapestries.

Like all the other industrial arts, that of the goldsmith 60flourished under the patronage of the Dukes of Burgundy. They spent an enormous amount of money in acquiring fine pieces of gold and silver and richly set jewels for their own treasury and use, and to give as presents. It was not long before the chief cities in Burgundy, Artois and Flanders saw the workshops of gold and silversmiths multiply greatly and gain a widespread reputation. These goldsmiths not only produced vases and chalices for the churches and chapels and beautiful articles for the Duke’s dressoirs, but they particularly excelled in the setting of jewels and in making beautiful pieces of delicately worked gold and silver, with which the costumes were laden to such an extent that Martial d’Auvergne, the author of Arrets d’amour, says “on s’harnachoit d’orfévrerie.”

Some of the Duke’s silver is especially described in his inventory, and among his possessions at the end of the fourteenth century, we find two silver chandeliers for the chapel. The central bulbs were fluted and they were hung with crystal. On the foot, the arms of France were engraved. There were also three other chandeliers (these were evidently what we should now rather call candlesticks), and were carved profusely with big leaves; and also three candlesticks of silver for the “fruiterie,” bearing on the base the arms of the Duke of Burgundy. The foot of another silver-gilt candlestick was decorated with three dragons; another candlestick of white silver (argent blanc) was decorated with the arms of the Dowager Countess of Hainault. In all probability these were among the candlesticks that Charles the Bold took to the Abbey of St. Maximin.

61Among the artisans that were patronized by the Dukes of Burgundy, we find the names of Jehan Villain, a goldsmith of Dijon from 1411 to 1431, and valet de chambre to John the Fearless and Philip the Bold; Jehan Pentin, goldsmith of Bruges under Philip the Good; Corneille de Bonte, a celebrated goldsmith of Ghent; and Henry le Backer of Brussels and Gérard Loyet, both goldsmiths of Charles the Bold. The former executed a famous altar group for the Count of Charolais (Charles the Bold) in 1456, consisting of a great cross at the foot of which knelt the Count and Countess of Charolais with St. George and St. Elizabeth. Gérard Loyet, who was goldsmith and valet de chambre to Charles the Bold, made in 1466 a statue of gold that the Duke presented to the Cathedral of St. Lambert of Liège. He also made in the year of Charles the Bold’s death two silver busts and two statues of that Duke. The busts, of natural size, were made for St. Adrien de Grammont and St. Sebastian of Brussels and the statues for Notre Dame d’Ardembourg and Notre Dame de Grâce of Brussels. The latter, although of silver, were coloured and were large in size. They represented Charles kneeling with folded hands dressed in armour with sword at his side and wearing the collar of the Golden Fleece.

There is very little furniture of the fourteenth and fifteenth century in existence. One of the few good buildings dating from the fourteenth century is the Guildhouse of the Tanners (Toreken) on the Rue des Peignes, Ghent. The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam has a copy of the solid oak ceiling of the Senate House at Sluis, dating from 1396, an imitation of the ceiling and 62chimney of the Senate House at Zwolle, built by the architect Berent in 1447; and a cast of an ornamental fireplace of the fifteenth century from the Markiezenhof at Bergen-op-Zoom. The Rijks also owns several Gothic cabinets, and a large Gothic cupboard of the fourteenth century from a convent in Utrecht. The Museum in the Steen, Antwerp, contains some good fifteenth century furniture.

A few names of wood-carvers of this period have survived. For example, the Town Hall of Louvain, the ancient capital of Brabant, is a very rich and lovely example of late Gothic work. It even surpasses the famous Town Halls of Brussels, Oudenarde, Ghent and Bruges. This was built by Matthew de Layens between 1447 and 1463. It is very rich in statues of local celebrities, and the supporting corbels are ornamented with almost detached reliefs representing biblical subjects.

The models in wood for the stone-cutters were executed after the designs of De Layens, by John Vander Eycken, Goswin Van der Voeren, Mathew Keldermans and John Roelants in 1448.

In decorative art, the Gothic style is feebly represented by great names that have survived. Most of the glorious work that was done by the Mediaeval carvers has perished, and the names of its producers have perished with it. Two names, of the period immediately before the Renaissance, of men who applied themselves to the composition and engraving of ornaments have survived. Le Maître à la Navette was born at Zwott; and was at work about 1475. Alart du Hameel was a native of Bois-le-Duc; and lived at the close of the fifteenth century.



Dawn of the Renaissance—The Transitional Period—Coffers and Bahuts—Court of Margaret of Austria—Perréal’s Style—Margaret’s Tomb by Perréal—Taste of the Regent—Margaret’s Tapestries, Carpets, Table-covers and Cushions—Her Curios—Flemish Tapestries—Cartoons by Bernard Van Orley—William de Pannemaker—English Tapestries—Last Days of the Gothic Style—Guyot de Beaugrant, Lancelot Blondeel and Peter Pourbus—Stalls in the Groote Kerk, Dordrecht—Carvings in Haarlem—Invasion of the Renaissance—Walnut, the Favourite Wood for Furniture and Carving—Versatility of the Artists—the Fleming as Emigrant—the Renaissance in Burgundy—Hugues Sambin—Sebastian Serlio—Peter Coeck of Alost—Pupils of Peter Coeck—Lambert Lombard—Francis Floris, the “Flemish Raphael”—the Craze for Numismatics—Hubert Goltzius—Cabinets of the Sixteenth Century—Italian Furniture—Characteristic Features of Renaissance Furniture—Ornaments: the Arabesque, Pilaster, Cartouche, Cuirs, Banderole and Caryatid—Publications of Decorative Design—Alaert Claes, Lucas van Leyden, Cornelis Bos and Martin van Heemskerck.

As in all other departments of human taste, thought and activity, there is no sudden change in Decorative Art, no swift rupture with old traditions. There is a period of transition, during which one style supplants another almost imperceptibly. Even when one great genius arises, he meets with opposition from the members of the old school; and it takes years for his ideas finally to triumph. Moreover, periods overlap: in one district the old style will persist half a century after the new is firmly established in another. Again, even in the same 64town, we sometimes find the two streams flowing side by side for some time. This is true of the Renaissance, as of all other styles. We even find that a palace within a space of ten years’ time might be begun in the Gothic and completed in the Renaissance style.

When Charles the Bold received his deathblow on the field of Nancy, a new era was dawning. The arts that had been fostered by the splendid Dukes of Burgundy already felt the impetus of a new movement. It was a period of momentous changes. Printing had already been invented, and designs for title-pages alone were to have a tremendous effect on Decorative Art. America was shortly to be discovered, and before long exotic woods were to end the exclusive sway of walnut and oak. Above all, Italy was to be practically rediscovered by Western Europe. Although many courts benefited by the fall of Constantinople, in 1453, the luxurious Italian states received by far the greater number of skilled artisans who brought with them the traditions of Classic Art. The maritime republics were, moreover, no strangers to the art products of the gorgeous East; and Venice especially then held almost a monopoly of the Levant trade, and distributed Oriental wares to France, Germany, England and the Netherlands.

The days of Feudalism had come to an end: Mediaevalism was dead. Wars of petty piracy and private spite ended almost simultaneously in Western Europe; wars of national competition in trade and bitter wars of religion were to succeed. In England, the Wars of the Roses were extinguished in 1485: the last private 65battle between the retainers of feudal lords was fought in 1483. In France, Louis XI, after the death of Charles the Bold, had reduced his other great vassals to order. In Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella had expelled the Moors and married their mad daughter, Joanna, to the heir of the Burgundian dominions, the issue of this marriage being Charles V, who was born at Ghent in 1500. In 1494, Charles VIII had crossed the Alps; and in Italy the French were as dazzled by the luxury and magnificence they saw as the Crusaders had been at Byzantium four centuries before. On their return, the Renaissance in France and the Netherlands may be said to have begun to bloom.

Before the opening of the sixteenth century, however, there was a remarkable activity in all the arts; and a coming change can be felt. The spirit of the Gothic and of the Classic style—Christian and Pagan—were already at war. In the Low Countries, this transitional period is noticeable during the last days of the House of Burgundy. Simultaneously, architecture and ornament insensibly underwent modifications, in which we recognize the earliest Renaissance, as it appeared also in France under the reign of Louis XII. Building and furniture have already become Classic in form and general aspect: the antique column becomes a leading feature of decoration, although the pilaster, which offers a convenient flat surface for the carving of arabesques, is often preferred. These arabesques are particularly characteristic of this transitional period. They consist of rather slender and simple branches, allowing considerable spaces of the background to 66appear; and very frequently they are divided into two symmetrical parts about a strongly accented middle axis. There is little relief and little projection in the composition. The details of ornamentation are taken especially from the floral world; and, if human figures or animals are used, they are attenuated and expressionless, and play an unimportant rôle. Figures of this description appear in Plate V that represents a coffer in carved wood in the Flemish style, from the Cluny Museum, Paris. The panel in the centre represents the Annunciation, rudely carved. Pilasters decorated with leaves separate it from two niches that contain figures boldly but crudely carved. Above the Annunciation is a lock of fine workmanship, the flap of which bears the figure of the crowned Virgin, in high relief.

Another typical coffer, or huche, of Flemish workmanship of the sixteenth century appears on Plate VI. Here we have three panels separated by caryatides. The subjects of the panels are Christ on the Cross, the Annunciation, and the Adoration of the Infant Jesus. The panels are also decorated with the heads of cherubs.

Another huche, or bahut, of the sixteenth century, of more delicate workmanship, is shown in Plate VII. The subject of the central panel is taken from the story of David. Allegorical figures decorate the pilasters, and Mercury and Cybele fill the niches. This is also from Cluny and is of French work of the sixteenth century.

Plate V.Coffer in Flemish Style.


The Renaissance was too strong a movement not to carry everything before it; but it must not be imagined that it met with no opposition. There were people in 67high places who clung obstinately to the old order of things and resented innovations. Gothic art was still supreme under the short rule of Mary of Burgundy; but her daughter Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands, had to face the new ideas, and found it hard to reconcile herself with them, notwithstanding her encouragement of the arts as a whole. She kept a brilliant court, and she and her husband, Philibert of Savoy, warmly encouraged genius and talent. She gathered around her more than one hundred and fifty painters, sculptors, architects and decorators in all branches of art.

On the death of her husband she was inconsolable; and planned a splendid church in which his and her remains should finally rest side by side. In 1505, she intrusted the planning of the work to Jean Perréal. In an early letter, he writes to her that he is delighted to undertake the work, and will take advantage of all he has observed regarding convents in Italy, where the most beautiful in all the world are to be found. In another letter, in 1509, we read: “Jy me suis mis après tant pour mon devoir envers nostre Majesté que pour l’amour que je vous doy, et ay revyré mes pour-traictures, au moins des choses antiques que j’ay eues ès parties d’Italie, pour faire de toutes belles fleurs ung trossé bouquet, dont j’ai monstré le jet au dict Le Maire.”

The Flemish character of Peréal’s early style had undoubtedly made him acceptable to the Regent. During her residence in France, from 1483 to 1493, she had then been subjected to no other than Flemish influence 68in art. The Italian taste had not yet reached Paris. But Perréal crossed the Alps with Charles VIII in 1495; Louis XII went into Italy in 1502, and again in 1509. We are thus on the threshold of the Renaissance. Perréal, as the above quotation shows, instead of remaining true to the memories of his Flemish education, wanted to seek adventures in the domain of Italian art. He had the temerity to offer to Margaret for her tombs a bunch of his troussés bouquets. She was scandalized, and broke off all relations with the erring artist. She looked around her for an artist who conformed to the principles of Flemish art, one who would not be likely to betray national traditions for foreign modes. Her choice fell upon a master mason named Louis van Beughem to build the great church of Brou. A member of one of the corporations of St. Luke, faithful to Gothic art, van Beughem produced a work that shows that style in its latest development and decadence. He showed so much zeal and ability that Margaret forced him to take charge of not only the masonry, but of the woodwork and windows too. With him were associated John of Brussels for the decorative work, and Conrad Meyt for the carving. Conrad of Mechlin was Margaret’s favourite “image-maker.” She paid him the generous salary of five sous a day. She paid her head cook twenty-six. Conrad carved the choir-stalls and other woodwork that demanded decorative treatment. He also executed all the great sculptural work on the tombs, including the life-size figures of Philibert of Savoy, Margaret’s dead spouse, and herself, represented both alive and dead, Margaret of Bourbon, ten children, a couching lion and many armorial devices.

Plate VI.Flemish Coffer or Huche.


69This instance is interesting as showing that the greatest abilities in that age were applied to the smallest matters of art as well as the greatest. Among the objects for which Conrad was paid in 1518–19, we find two Hercules in wood, and two portraits of the princess in wood (for these he received eight Philippus in all), a wooden turret for the Regent’s cabinet and a carved stag’s head for her library chimney-piece.

Margaret’s tastes are easily learned from the inventory she drew up with her own hand of her possessions in Mechlin shortly before her death. She seems to have cared almost exclusively for paintings, rich embroideries and curios. She made a complete list of her pictures, many of which were undoubtedly painted to please her by the artists of her Court. Among her embroideries were a great number of handsome ecclesiastical vestments and a few coifs, belts and gorgets for herself embroidered with gold thread “à la mode d’Espagne.” The greater number of her tapestries, bed-hangings, cases for cushions, table-covers and serviettes, etc., to adorn the shelves of dressoirs were from Spain. Her tapestries are worth noting. She had two pieces woven of gold, silver and silk, representing the history of Alexander the Great, which came from Spain; four pieces, representing the story of Esther, also of gold, silver and silk, also from Spain; three pieces of gold and silk depicting the life of the Cid; two of the Seven Sacraments, another of Alexander; and four of Saint Helena. In addition to these Spanish tapestries, she 70had six pieces called the “Cité des Dames,” presented to her by the city of Tournay when she went there to meet the King of England.

The gift of the Cité des Dames may perhaps have made some atonement for her vexation at having to attend that splendid meeting of the King and Emperor. She was very unwilling to go, and wrote to her father Maximilian, on September 22, 1513, as follows:

“If you think it necessary for me to go and I can be of service to you, I am ready to do all that it pleases you to order, but otherwise, it is not the part of a widow woman to trotter and visit armies for pleasure.”

She also owned seventeen rich Spanish velvet carpets. Among her chamber-hangings, bed-hangings, and canopies were several articles made of rich cloth of gold, bordered with crimson and embroidered with the arms and device of the “late King of Aragon.”

She had a camp (or folding) bed with hangings of cloth of gold richly embroidered with gold thread and silk, and a canopy for a camp bed covered with cloth of gold and trimmed with a fringe of black silk and gold threads; and she also owned four large pieces of cloth of gold, each differently bordered, to decorate her throne, and also one of green velvet. She had two curtains of green and grey tafetas, and four of crimson tafetas, a number of pieces of cloth of gold, four hangings for a chamber of green velvet and white damask, and two palls, one of white silk embroidered with gold, and the other gold, green, red and white; and the furnishing of a camp bed with canopy, counterpane and three curtains of green tafetas lined with black. Margaret did not despise leather hangings, for she had several pieces of “tapestry of red morocco” each 4½ ells long and just as wide, trimmed with bands of green brightened with gold, and three other pieces of “red morocco” with gilded bands. These probably came from Spain.

Plate VII.Huche, or Bahut (Sixteenth Century).


71A “pavilion” of grey and yellow silk threads “as a protection against the flies,” shows how early the mosquito net was known.

We should also note “packs for mules in the Spanish style,” covered with cloth of gold and silver.

Among her table-covers was one of cloth of gold and white with trimmings of crimson velvet embroidered and fringed with gold, and one of cloth of gold with a crimson satin border.

The collection of “serviettes” were exquisitely embroidered with gay coloured silks and gold threads. Some of them were trimmed with silk borders and some with narrow fringe. One, for instance, was embroidered with violet, and adorned with a violet fringe; another was embroidered in silver, blue, flesh-colour, crimson and green and had a little fringe of red, blue and gold. The two dozen beautiful cushions were of cloth of gold with gold tassels; of gold and blue lozenges; and embroidered in variously coloured silks.’

The choice articles in her cabinet included three fine pieces of amber; a branch of coral in a wooden box; four other branches of coral; a piece of coral shaped like a horn; a little silver box with two coral images; a little parfumador of silver for scent-balls; a little Spanish fan, beautifully made; a little gilded St. George in a 72black leather case; a little agate salt-cellar with a gilded foot; three spoons—one of mother-of-pearl with a silver handle, the others of cornelian with handles of chalcedony; a picture of St. Mark on canvas; two East India boxes; a pair of East Indian slippers; a piece of violet silk; a little retable, containing an image of Notre Dame and St. Joseph; another, with a hawthorn in blossom; a little paradise with all the apostles represented; a lacquer box garnished with silver; a little silver cage; two tablets of wood framing pictures; two clocks, the larger one striking the hours and half hours; a Saint Margaret made in the likeness of Mlle. de Mon-Lambert; a little crying child painted by a good artist; the Emperor’s face in black and white; the little Duke of Milan on canvas; an Annunciation on canvas; a Saint Anthony made by Master Jacques; a little ivory picture given to Madame by M. de Chièvres; the face of the Duke Philip; a silver gilt picture of the Annunciation with two leaves of porcelain, portraits of the late King Philip and Queen Joanna, his wife; a Notre Dame in amber; a beautiful steel mirror; a Notre Dame of alabaster; a round piece of alabaster in which a lion is cut; and several sets of chess, of silver, silver-gilt, ivory, carved wood, ivory and wood; a set in jasper wrapped in a flag; and a set of chalcedony and jasper in an old painted box. She also had two dice-boxes, one gilt and one ivory. She also owned a good deal of curious needlework; two steel mirrors, one framed in silver gilt; and a netted purse of green and silver, marked with a unicorn.

Margaret was by no means peculiar in her liking for 73sumptuous tapestries. The walls of every palace, castle and mansion of the day were adorned with rich hangings, and these products of the Flemish looms were sought by prince and prelate throughout Europe.

Although Flanders continued to produce the most important sets of tapestry during the sixteenth century, and cartoons were supplied by the Flemish artists, Bernard van Orley, Michel Coxie and Peter of Campana, and the French artists, Primaticcio, Matteo del Nassaro, Caron and Lerambert, by far the greater number of designs came from Italy. Paul Veronese, Titian, Pordenone, Salviati, A. del Sarto, Bronzino, Giovanni da Udine, Giulio Romano and Raphael are among the most prolific designers; and in the tapestries after their cartoons, the grouping and distribution of the figures as well as the colouring (that requires much more shading) differ greatly from the works of the past. The borders are also more varied; instead of being decorated only with fruits and flowers tied with ribbons, other motives are introduced—birds, nude children, fishes, crustaceans, vegetables, emblems, quivers, masks, grotesques, etc., etc.

Most of these fine sets were made in Brussels to order; but many tapestries were made there and sold in Antwerp. If Brussels was the workshop of Europe, Antwerp was the mart. In this city, where all kinds of merchandise abounded, Guicciardini informs us that more than a thousand foreign merchants had established themselves and exhibited for sale to the eyes of purchasers the fine tapestries made in Brussels. There was a special place, “Le Pand, halle aux tapisseries, 74where many beautiful and marvellous inventions and works were exhibited and sold.”

Regarding the Brussels tapestries, the same old traveller tells us:

“Especially admirable and yielding great profit, is the trade of the tapestry-makers, who weave, design and warp pieces in high warp in silk, gold and silver, at great expense, and with an industry that wins everybody’s admiration and wonder.”

During the sixteenth century, the looms of Flanders enjoyed great vogue and received orders from all the princes of Europe. When the merchants of Florence wished to enrich the Church of St. John with tapestry, they sent to Flanders; when Francis I, who possessed some magnificent pieces of Flemish tapestry, wanted to make a present to the Pope, he had twelve scenes from the Life of Christ made at Arras, from cartoons by Raphael; and from 1518–39 there are many entries in the accounts of the Treasury of France for sums paid for Flemish tapestries for the King. As there was no manufactory for high-warp tapestry in France, Francis I decided to establish one in Fontainebleau in 1539, and gathered there fifteen skilled Flemish workmen whom he placed under the direction of Philibert Babou, Sieur de la Bourdaizière, and Sebastian Serlio, the Italian architect.

Throughout the Renaissance, tapestry was regarded on a level with painting. The Pope, the Doges of Venice and the wealthy families—the D’Estes, the Medicis and Sforzas—made superb collections and decorated their halls with splendid hangings. The greater number 75of these were made in Flanders, although a few lords—the D’Estes and Sforzas, for example—had looms of their own, worked by Flemings.

Subjects from mythology, the Scriptures and martyrology are still popular, but scenes from the old romances of chivalry are banished. Valiant princes and prosperous cities make use of the weaver’s art to commemorate their victories and triumphs, and many gorgeous sets depicting current events are hung in mansions, villas, and town halls. Antwerp, for example, orders The Course of the Scheldt for her Town Hall. Flanders also makes such pieces as The Hunts of Maximilian, Battle of Pavia, Victories of the Duke of Alva, Destruction of the Armada, The Deliverance of Leyden in 1574, The Defeat of the Spaniards by the Zealanders, Genealogy of the Princes of Nassau, etc.

Brussels produced the famous set of ten, The Acts of the Apostles, ordered by Leo X in 1515. The cartoons, for which Raphael received 100 ducats each (£200), were sent to Peter van Aelst, the most noted tapestry-worker in Flanders. The Pope paid him 15,000 gold ducats (£30,000) for the set. Peter van Aelst was varlet de chambre and weaver to Philippe le Beau, in 1504, and later to his son, Charles V. Bernard van Orley, a pupil of Raphael, was associated with him in the production of The Acts of the Apostles, which were hung in the Sistine Chapel, December 26, 1519. In 1549, Vasari wrote of them: “One is astonished at the sight of this series; its execution is marvellous. One can hardly imagine how it was possible, with simple threads, to produce such delicacy in the hair and beards, and to 76express the suppleness of flesh. It is a work more Godlike than human; the waters, the animals and the habitations are so perfectly represented that they appear painted with a brush and not woven.”

Another beautiful set, The Loves of Vertumnus and Pomona, now in Madrid, was also made by Flemish weavers from Italian cartoons; and were bought by Charles V in Antwerp, before 1546.

Bernard van Orley designed The Grand Hunts of Guise, or of Maximilian, formerly attributed to Dürer. In these realistic pictures of costume, landscape and national types, there is a return to the Flemish disregard for perspective and grouping.

Mention should be made of the famous Lucas Months, long believed to be the work of Lucas van Leyden, but certainly by a Flemish artist. These were frequently copied at the Gobelins. In the month “January” a superb sideboard is represented.

A very celebrated tapestry-worker, William de Pannemaker, was commissioned by Charles V to weave The Conquest of Tunis, the cartoons for which were made by Jan Vermay, or Vermeyen, of Beverwyck, near Haarlem. Although eighty-four workers were employed, it took five years to complete it.

Pannemaker also made The Victories of the Duke of Alva.

What the principal centres of tapestry were, we learn from an edict of Charles V, in 1544, that says: “It is forbidden to manufacture tapestries outside of Brussels, Louvain, Antwerp, Bruges, Oudenarde, Alost, Enghien, Binche, Ath, Lille, Tournay and other free towns, 77where the craft is organized and regulated by ordinances.”

Holland also produced tapestry in this century. Looms were set up in Middelburg in 1562; and later in Delft, where Franz Spierinck worked.

A little tapestry was produced in Italy, but even there the greater number of weavers were Flemings. Two Flemish tapestry-workers, Nicholas and John Karcher, were employed by the Duke d’Este, at his court in Ferrara; and Cosmo I employed Nicholas Karcher and John Rost of Brussels at his establishment, the “Arazzeria Medicea,” in Florence.

The store-rooms of royalty and nobles in England were filled with superb sets that were brought out for decoration on occasions. Most of these were imported from the Continent; but towards the end of Henry VIII’s reign, William Sheldon orders one Robert Hicks to make maps of Oxford, Worcester, Gloucester and Warwick counties at his manor in Warwickshire, and calls Hicks “the only auteur and beginner of tapestry and arras within this realm.”

Returning now to the consideration of furniture as an architectural accessory, we find that Margaret of Austria’s tastes were shared by many of her contemporaries. The Gothic style lingered here and there far into the sixteenth century, and even those whose sympathies were frankly in favour of the Renaissance did not entirely cast away Gothic traditions. (See Plate X.)

For example, let the student examine the beautiful choir of St. Gertrude in Louvain. The stalls are adorned with statuettes and twenty-eight reliefs of scenes from 78the lives of Our Lord, of St. Augustine, and of the patron saint, Gertrude. The ornamentation recalls the last days of the Gothic style. The work ranks among the finest examples of wood-carving in Belgium. It was executed by Mathias de Waydere, of Brussels in 1550.

Mechlin was the capital of the Netherlands while Margaret was Regent. Her palace, now the Palais de Justice, shows both the old and new styles. The older parts date from 1507, and were built in the late Gothic style by Rombout Keldermans. Before the palace was finished, in 1517, a French architect, Guyot de Beaugrant, was associated with Rombout in the work. This part of the palace is the oldest Renaissance building in Belgium.

It is somewhat puzzling to reconcile Margaret’s preference for Gothic art with the fact that her own palace shows a halting between two opinions. It may be that she merely drew the line between civil and ecclesiastical edifices, and would welcome in a palace, or town hall, decorations that she would exclude from a church.

Oudenarde, the birthplace of Margaret’s grandniece, who was also to be Regent of the Netherlands, contains work that marks this transitional period. The doorway of the Council Chamber in the Town Hall is a splendid piece of Renaissance wood-carving, executed by Paul van Schelden in 1531; and a fine chimney-piece carved in the Flamboyant style only two years earlier. Another late Gothic chimney-piece, by his brother Peter, is in the Salle des Pas Perdus.

Guyot de Beaugrant was the architect who executed the most famous and important monument of this period. 79This is the chimney-piece of the Palais de Justice at Bruges. Of all the productions of this kind that the sixteenth century has bequeathed to us, and they are numerous, none is more remarkable, either for its dimensions or the beauty of the work. Its general effect is imposing, and its masses are distributed with that feeling for effect that reveals the man of genius.

The lower part is of black marble with four reliefs in white marble on the frieze, representing the story of Susanna and the Elders. The painter, Lancelot Blondeel of Bruges, supplied the designs for the upper part, which is of carved oak. The statues represent Charles V as Count of Flanders, Mary of Burgundy and her spouse, Maximilian, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, all ancestors of Charles. Busts of his parents, Philip and Joanna, adorn the throne; and on two small medallions are Margaret herself and Launoy the commander at Pavia.

As for the details, pilaster, figurines, bas-reliefs, shields, medallions, trophies of arms, etc., everything is of incomparable finish, and the art of wood-carving has never been so boldly pushed to its uttermost expression. This occupies nearly the entire side of the Court Room and was made in memory of the Battle of Pavia and the Peace of Cambrai, by which the independence of Flanders was recognized. This masterpiece was begun in 1529; it was completed in 1530, the year of Margaret’s death.

Lancelot Blondeel, of Poperinghe, was essentially a painter of the transition period. He was a man of most extraordinary gifts, being at the same time a painter, 80sculptor, mason and engineer. Besides painting, he designed several masterpieces of sculpture in addition to this celebrated Cheminée du Franc. He was also a wood-engraver, and made drawings for the glass painters and tapestry-workers. In 1546, moreover, he submitted plans to the magistracy of Bruges for a canal to connect that city with the sea. He gave his daughter in marriage to Peter Pourbus, the last of the great painters of the school of Bruges. Pourbus was as versatile as his father-in-law, and was intrusted by the city with the organization of public festivals and rejoicings. He dabbled a little in architecture, engineering and cartography.

Works of the early Renaissance are rarer in Holland than in Flanders; but Holland possesses one of the most remarkable carvings of the sixteenth century, the stalls of the Groote Kerk in Dordrecht done by Jan Terween Aertsz, of Antwerp, in 1538–42. Four years only were required to carve this great allegory. These stalls, of magnificent proportions, are divided into two sections: one, at the side of the altar, consists of thirty stalls in two tiers. This is the most richly treated, being intended for the clergy. The sides on the passageways are most elaborately carved. The second section is much simpler and has no separate seats. It is intended for the choristers. No work in the Low Countries surpasses this. The spectator is first attracted by the superb construction and handsome outlines, but it is only when the details are examined that the work is fully appreciated. The dazzled eye notes such a profusion of ornamental figures and motives that it would 81be hard to find their equal. The only carvings in the Netherlands that can be compared with them are the choir-stalls in the cathedral at Ypres, made in 1598, but these have not quite the same distinction in execution. The first carvings one notes are the friezes in relief above the seats and under the graceful little columns that adorn the back. The subjects of these bas-reliefs are the Triumph of Christ; the Triumph of the Eucharist; Scenes from the Old and New Testament; the Triumphal Procession of Mutius Scaevola; and the Triumphal Entry of Charles V in Dordrecht, on July 21, 1540. The cycle of the Triumph of Christ opens with two archangels with trumpets, announcing the King of Kings; then follow Adam and Eve, Noah with the Ark, Moses with the Tables of the Law, Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, David with his harp, Jonah, Samson with the lion, Elias and John the Baptist—all prototypes of Christ. Then come the twelve apostles with palm branches, and Christ in a triumphal car, decorated with dragons’ heads and richly ornamented with the symbols of the Cross and dove, and drawn by symbols personifying the four Evangelists. Chained to Christ’s car is Death, accompanied by the monster Sin, swallowed by the colossal open jaws of Hell, in which the Devil is seen riding. Lastly, come Mary and the four saints, Catherine, Barbara, Lawrence and Christopher.

The Triumph of the Eucharist opens with choristers and other children singing, followed by Franciscan monks, nuns, canons, deacons, deans, the Fathers of the Church—Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose and Gregory, 82then the Church in a triumphal chariot with the Holy Sacrament, then the Pope, cardinals and bishops. The procession of Mutius Scaevola is, of course, Roman in character, and consists, likewise, of eight panels. The Triumph of Charles V resembles in some respects the Triumph of Maximilian by Dürer (Dürer visited the Low Countries in 1520). Two cavaliers with trumpets open the march and are followed by three others; then comes a grandee of Spain with the orb of the Empire, his horse led by pages. Other grandees follow, then the imperial train, guided by allegorical virgins, and the Emperor, seated under a baldaquin in a richly-decorated chariot, with the palm of peace in his left, and the sceptre in his right hand. The sword and orb of state lie at his feet.

Some of the terminal figures on the ends of the stalls are very fine, particularly Matthew, Luke, David, Solomon and Daniel in the lions’ den. The heads and busts that are developed out of the foliage are of exceptional interest. The miséricordes (seats) are decorated with humorous and Biblical scenes. The luxuriant foliage that forms no little part of the ornamentation is in the style of the first Italian Renaissance and in many places is mingled with musical instruments, heads, fruits, figurines, children and coats-of-arms.

Terween is supposed to have been born in Dordrecht, in 1511. He died in 1598. For other Gothic carved work during the early Renaissance the student may go to the Groote Kerk of Haarlem. This is also especially interesting on account of its transitional features; for while the magnificent choir-stalls and 83rood-screen still retain the Gothic character (the screen was erected in 1540 by Diderik Sybrandszoon, of Mechlin, and bears several municipal coats-of-arms), the side railings of the inner choir are in the style of the early Renaissance. A remarkable example of Mediaeval carved oak, called the “H. Geest Stoel,” is also preserved in this church.

The church of St. Nicolas, at Dixmuiden, also contains a splendid rood-loft carved in the richest Flamboyant style, dating from about 1520.

The Gothic period, therefore, practically ended at the close of the fifteenth century. The Renaissance restored Greek and Latin taste. In furniture, it followed the forms and ornaments of architecture, as the Gothic had done; so that now, instead of pointed arches with trefoils, quatrefoils, or flamboyant tracery, we have pediments and various Orders with their columns, capitals, arcades and superpositions of colonnades.

After the transitional period, during which the Decorative Arts freed themselves from the domination of ecclesiastical influence and acquired individuality of form, we find a rapid development during the sixteenth century. The Renaissance quickly passed through its stages of growth in the styles of Louis XII and François I, and burst into full bloom in the Henri II style.

Before the invasion of the new school, Gothic tracery quickly disappears; and with all the wealth of decoration, cartouches, mascarons of gods, heroes, nymphs, etc., in order to produce the proper effect and the correct massing of details, it becomes necessary to submit furniture to the rules of Classic architecture; and furniture, 84therefore, breaks with all traditions of the past and becomes a special art. New tools, new methods, and a new technique are invented. Walnut becomes the fashionable wood, and to follow the taste of the day the Flemings forsake their much-loved oak. Nearly all the great pieces of the Burgundian school of this period are carved in this wood.

After slight hesitation, Flanders welcomed the Renaissance with open arms. Like the Venetian, the Fleming was artistic and commercial at the same time, and thoroughly understood how to turn his talents into profit. He scented a new fashion as soon as it made its appearance, assimilated it and added a touch or two of his own. The Renaissance found in Flanders, moreover, as we have seen, a ground already prepared by the princes of the House of Burgundy. Skilful engravers provided the studios with models and designs, wood-carvers multiplied to embellish the palace and church, town-halls and guild-houses, castle of the lord and home of the burgher and merchant.

The great artists of the period were extraordinarily versatile: they were architects, sculptors, painters, glass-painters, goldsmiths, designers for furniture and triumphal arches, machinists, historians, engravers, numismatologists, and sometimes geographers and poets all at once; and a talent for art always seemed to run through all the members of one family through several generations, including both men and women.

Plate VIII.Cabinet (Sixteenth Century).

They had great intellects that were equal to every conception, and their skilful hands were capable of the most minute as well as the most important work. If 85the Renaissance produced so many original works, the cause must be sought in the complete education of the masters of this remarkable period. The artists of the Low Countries knew how to assimilate in the most complete fashion the artistic principles of other schools; but although drawing inspiration from foreign sources they knew how to imprint on their creations a particular cachet, which distinguishes Flemish work. They used to great advantage the colour of the material, the exigences of the climate and produced picturesque combinations.

The Fleming was the traveller par excellence of the Renaissance—sculptor, cabinet-maker, painter, architect, potter, weaver, goldsmith—we find him everywhere. He even reaches Hungary, Russia and Turkey. Spain he finds a congenial soil, and also England.

Although Burgundy resisted the Italian invasion for a time, the Renaissance was destined to reach, perhaps, its most brilliant development, after Italy, in this very province. It is generally conceded that the Burgundian style owes its character to Hughes Sambin, an architect and master carpenter, born about the beginning of the sixteenth century. In 1535, he finished the porch of St. Michel’s in Dijon, and in 1572, published in Lyons, after a period of study in Michael Angelo’s studio, a book filled with wood engravings, and entitled Oeuvres de la diversité des termes dont on se sert en architecture, réduit en ordre par Maistre Hughes Sambin, architecteur en la ville de Dijon.

Sambin’s most important work is the Palais de Justice in Dijon, where there is a very beautiful wooden 86door carved by him, or under his direction, and the Salle des Procurateurs, built under Henri II, the ceiling of which is carved wood. Sambin’s book shows that he was an adept in the Renaissance style, and devoted to the study of antique monuments. Regarding him, Champeaux says:

“In truth, it is the taste for caryatides and grotesque figures surrounded by garlands, and supporting broken pediments that predominate in all his compositions. The result is a certain character of heaviness and bizarrerie that is more conspicuous in the buildings contributed by him than in his furniture, for the material of the latter, less cold than stone, allows more scope to the original fantasy of the artist. The furniture inspired by Sambin’s designs does not exhibit the ponderous grace of the armoires and buffets made in Paris; the lines are not traced with the same tasteful harmony; but it must be recognized that no school equals the vigour and the dramatic expression of the Burgundian artists of this period. The figures of the caryatides and chimerical animals that support the various parts of their furniture and conceal the uprights, are animated with a brutal energy that only skilful chisels can create. Moreover, the walnut wood of which they are carved has been clothed with a warm tone that sometimes equals that of Florentine bronzes.”

Plate IX.Armoire, Burgundian School.

A fine example of the Burgundian school appears on Plate IX. This is an armoire showing fine and bold carving with Renaissance motives. The panels of the lower drawers are carved with grotesque figures, flanked by pilasters bearing caryatides. The drawers above 87them are furnished with keyholes. The upper section has a large central panel with a terminal figure in the centre, the head of which forms a fine ornament between the broken pediment. On either side are terminal figures. This beautiful armoire resembles in form the “court cupboard” that was so extensively used in England at this period.

Many of the great artists of the day went to Italy to study on the spot, but it would seem that the works of Sebastian Serlio were in high repute, and were closely studied in the Low Countries. Guicciardini, who wrote in 1588, tells us that “Peter Coucq of Alost was great in cartoons or designs for tapestry; and has the peculiar praise of first bringing from Italy the canon of architecture, and translated into Flemish the work of Sebastian Serlio of Bologna, to the great advantage of the Netherlands.”

Peter Coeck was born in Alost in 1502, and died in Brussels in 1550. He was a devoted follower of Serlio. He translated his works into French and Flemish, and engraved all the plates for this publication himself. These were issued in Antwerp: parts I-III in 1516, part IV in 1539, and part V was published by his widow in 1553.

Coeck was painter to Charles V, and to his sister, Mary of Austria, Queen of Hungary (born in Brussels in 1503), to whom Charles V gave the government of the Low Countries. In her the arts and sciences found as enthusiastic a patron as they had in her aunt Margaret of Austria. Just as the latter had had her favourite painters in van Orley and Jean Mostaert, so she chose Peter Coeck for hers.

88Coeck achieved great fame in the remarkable triumphal arches which he designed for the joyous entrance of Philip II into Antwerp. In 1527, he was made master of the Guild of St. Luke. Thierry de Moelenere intrusted him with the decoration of his rich house in Antwerp, in which he displayed his knowledge as architect, painter and sculptor. Some of the caryatides from this house are now preserved in the Steen Museum. A superb mantelpiece with three tiers of subjects carved by his hand is in the Town Hall of Antwerp.

Coeck also executed a window for the Church of Notre Dame in Antwerp.

Among his pupils were the painters, Pierre Clays, Gilles de la Hee, Nicholas van Nieucasteel, surnamed Nicholas Lucidel, and Pierre Breugel the Elder (who married his daughter).

Lambert Lombard (1506–66), went to Italy in 1537. He returned to Liège in 1539. He was a painter, and more particularly an architect. He set up a school of painting and engraving, the first of its kind there. Three of his pupils brought great honour to his school: these were Francis Floris, called the “Flemish Raphael,” William Key and Hubert Goltzius. He worked very little himself beyond designs for engravers, and more often for paintings on glass. He was rich enough to indulge his taste for objects of antiquity. It was at this date that the study of numismatics came into existence in Belgium, and learned men took delight in setting up a cabinet of medals and coins: among the wealthy it became even a mania that was carried to extremes. Lombard’s collection, the beauty of which was praised 89by all his contemporaries, was composed of medals, coins, carvings, and other objects of high antiquity.

Hubert (or Hugo) Goltius (or Goltz), was a painter, engraver, numismatologist and historian. He was born at Venlo in 1526 and died in 1583. He studied under Lambert Lombard and was also influenced by Erasmus’ friend, van Watervliet, who guided him in his classic studies, Greek and Roman antiquities, etc.

Goltius visited all the great towns in Belgium, Holland, Germany, France and Italy, in order to examine the cabinets of collectors for material for his book on coins. His itinerary reveals an astonishing number of collectors of coins and medals.

Goltius made the decorations in Antwerp for the fêtes of the Golden Fleece. He was also appointed historian to Philip II.

A marriage coffer of leather, designed by him, represented the King of Spain and Margaret of Austria standing beside the Fountain of Love.

The craze for medals, coins and curios during the sixteenth century was widespread. We have seen that the Regent had a coffer full of corals and various trifles. To meet the demand for housing curios, the cabinet was developed. This was usually a double chest, the upper one smaller than the other. Both closed with doors and contained drawers and shelves.

Like almost all the pieces of furniture called “cabinets” of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the one reproduced on Plate VIII is in two parts, the upper being smaller than, and standing back on the top of, the lower. It is carved in walnut wood, enriched with 90sculptures, and here and there plaques of marble are set in order to relieve the monotony resulting from the sole use of wood. Stone of various colours was largely used at this period, as an inlay for furniture in the Netherlands and France, and more especially in Germany.

The principal fault with which the Flemish artists of the period are reproached is that of “painting the lily.” They frequently are lacking in restraint, and overcharge their surfaces with riot of ill-combined mouldings and carvings; but in this specimen we have fine restraint. Its structure and general disposition are strong and well-contrived; the mouldings have a good profile; the sculpture is in the right place, and, at the same time, is subordinated to the lines whose mission is to contain and quiet it. This piece belongs to the best school of the Renaissance, and will hold its own in almost any surroundings.

In the lower part of this cabinet, the two panels that form the doors are carved with the figures of Diana and Juno with their attributes. The drawers above are decorated also: the central one has a lion’s head, to which a ring is suspended, and the two others have a simple knob. In the panels of the upper doors, Paris is presenting the golden apple to Venus, whose beauty has outshone that of her rivals. A garland of fruits with a mascaron in the centre is above this, and the whole is topped by a broken pediment framing an armed Pallas.

If we cast a glance at Italian furniture, we shall see that the French and Flemish artists at first frankly copied 91what they had seen when they accompanied the three expeditions to Naples.

In the sixteenth, as in the preceding century, the Italians were particularly fond of the Roman triumphal arch and sarcophagus, as forms for furniture. The Classic Orders were in great vogue, and the arabesque and candelabra-shaped pilasters, introduced so long ago into decoration, were renewed and made popular by Raphael. To the ancient style of marquetry, composed of little geometrically-cut cubes of natural wood, there succeeded a marquetry of coloured woods arranged to form actual pictures with perspective. Some of the furniture was carved, and then painted, or gilded; but other furniture shows large surfaces that are decorated with beautiful oil paintings.

The Italian furniture was particularly da pompa, made for the adornment of long galleries, enriched with paintings, gildings, tapestries, velvets, damasks, brocades, cushions, curtains, mirrors, and sumptuous cassoni. Beds, chairs, tables, cabinets, mirror and picture frames, standing candelabra, bellows, coffers, chests, seats and buffets (credenza), are of the most luxurious nature; and the latter display magnificent gold and silver work (Cellini is busy at this period), and marvellous examples of faïence; for, be it remembered, it is also the period of Luca della Robbia and his school.

The Italians cared little or nothing for the large chimney-pieces, so dear to the northern races in their colder climate; and the great seats by the fireside have also no attractions. The Italian has no oak, nor half-timbered houses with pointed gables without and heavy 92beams within: his woods are walnut, pine and chestnut for ordinary furniture, and ebony, cedar and cypress for his luxurious articles. His materials, like his taste, are more decorative than practical.

Such was the taste that invaded the Low Countries during the Renaissance; much of it brought home by the Flemish artists who visited Italy; and some of it coming into the country by way of France, where Serlio was the guiding spirit, Cellini had settled, and the school of Fontainebleau was in full blast.

The characteristic feature of Renaissance furniture consists in the monumental façade that is like a Roman temple, and various orders of Classic architecture are superimposed: it is Doric at the base; Doric in the centre; and Corinthian at the top. The whole is surmounted by a pediment, the triangle of which is broken in the centre to receive a bust, vase or statuette. (See Plate VIII.)

The projections stand out boldly and form sharp cornices. In the panels, in the supports and between the columns, niches are cut out and framed in an architectural motive of some kind. In them are figures of heroes or classic deities. Sometimes also there are round medallions in the form of dormer windows from which curious heads with outstretched necks peer forth.

Plate X.Bedroom, by De Vries “Cubiculum.”

Ornate pieces of furniture exhibit a whole world of real or imaginary beings, mingled with garlands of fruits, or flowers, and ribbons. Often the figures are fantastically developed out of the leaves and floral branches. The favourite decorative motives are antique columns, pediments, broken pediments, terms, garlands, 93pagan deities, classical heroes, caryatides, grotesque figures, initial letters smothered in branches of foliage, cartouches, pilasters and arabesques. Gothic perforations are also used, although they are more geometrical than during the preceding period. (See Plate X.) The favourite linen-fold pattern dies very hard. Strips of leather called “cuirs,” variously folded and plaited, enjoy a great vogue. (See panel on Plates XXI and XX). The encoinçon (see Figs. 17 and 18) is also popular; and the “compartiment” appears in hundreds of designs. The compartment ceiling is a favourite room decoration, and is often ornamented with roses, brackets, floral designs and monograms. A compartment ceiling of intricate design appears in Plate XXIV.

The arabesque, which so often forms a central motive, is usually in the form of a flower stem, a knot of ribbon or a candelabra, symmetrically arranged with branches to right and left, and charged with trophies, vases, fantastic beings, animals, etc., at the caprice of the artist. These delicate ornaments flourish in the panels, mingling with the horn of plenty, bold sirens, and medallions of antique heroes in high relief.

The arabesque was beautifully treated by many artists, but the most successful were Marc Gerard, a celebrated painter, sculptor and architect of Bruges, and Lucas van Leyden whose style of treating arabesques follows Albrecht Dürer. Examples of Lucas van Leyden appear in Figs. 10, 11 and 12.

The pilaster is a decorative necessity of the upright, marking the division of the façades, or accenting the uprights of the chests, chairs, dressoirs, etc.

94The cartouche (Italian cartoccio) scrolled paper, is generally composed of a frame made of mouldings, or scrolls, enclosing a plain, convex, or concave space, of regular or irregular form intended for an inscription, coat of arms, cypher, etc. Vredemann de Vries and Theodore de Bry decorate their cartouches with swags of fruits, which were copied by Gerrit Hessels, a Dutch engraver whose compositions mark the transition between those artists and Crispin de Passe, Francouart and the school of Rubens. One of the peculiar features of the cartouche of the sixteenth century is the use of motives composed of strips of leather twisted, and variously decorated. Vredemann de Vries calls these “Compartments” in his well-known Multarum variarumque protractionum (compartimenta vulgus pictorum vocat) libellus utilissimus, jam recens delineatus per Johannem Vreedemanum, Frisium Gerardus Judaeus exculpebat (Antwerp MDLV).

This peculiar style of leather ornamentation known as cuirs, and consisting of strips interlaced in so many forms, is a much loved decoration of the Flemish school. A notable collection of cuirs was published by Jerome Cock, the printer-engraver, in Antwerp, his native town.

Among the favourite decorations is the banderole, the floating ribbon or streamer which had been much used during the Middle Ages. It was used in great variety by many artists during the Renaissance.

The peculiar form of caryatid called gaîne or terme, a species of support, is also extremely popular. It is used by Peter Coeck of Alost, in most of his compositions; and by his pupil Vredemann de Vries, who composed a special collection of Caryatides ou termes.

Plate XI.Flemish Bedstead (1580).

Figs. 10–12: Designs by Lucas van Leyden; Figs. 13–16: Designs by A. Claces; Figs. 17–18: Écoinçon, by De Vries.

95In studying the furniture of the early Renaissance, the works of the masters of design are most important aids. Before 1500, as we have seen, publications of purely decorative design, and even of architecture as a whole, are exceedingly scarce. From the opening of the sixteenth century, however, such publications rapidly multiply. Interior decorators who used the chisel in panel and pillar, and the contemporary joiners and cabinet-makers decorated their surfaces with details and motives taken from the Italians, and from the designs of native goldsmiths, engravers, painters and architects. As we have seen, it was no uncommon thing for one individual to be an adept in all these branches.

Therefore, the decorations of the designers of the early Renaissance have a special interest for us when we want to see what motives supplanted Gothic tracery, Biblical scenes and angels on carved chests, credences, armoires, beds and seats.

The first decorative designers who adopted the style of the Renaissance were Alaert Claas, Lucas van Leyden and Cornelis Bos. Claas (painter and engraver) worked in Utrecht from 1520 to 1555. Lucas van Leyden (painter and engraver), whose family name was Damesz, was born in Leyden in 1494 and died in 1533. Cornelis Bos (glass painter, architect and engraver), was born in Bois-le-Duc about 1510. He worked in Rome and was famous from 1530 to 1560. Another artist and engraver who belonged to the same school of decorative art was 96Martin van Heemskerck (1494–1574). He worked and died in Haarlem.

A mascaron with typical floral scroll-work dated 1523, the work of Lucas van Leyden, appears in Fig. 10. Another decorative composition with grotesque sirens and floral scrolls in Fig. 11, also by the same master, is dated 1528. A third and very graceful design of the same date by Lucas van Leyden is shown in Fig. 12. Decorations for panels, or other flat surfaces in wood, stone or goldsmith’s work are represented in Figs. 13 and 14 and Figs. 15 and 16; these are by Alaert Claas (or Claasen).



Second Period of the Renaissance—Court of Mary of Hungary—Charles V a Fleming—Influence of Burgundian Court in Spain—Gilded Leather—Wealth of the Nobles in the Netherlands—Margaret of Valois at Namur—Antwerp in the Sixteenth Century—Christopher Plantin—Cornelius and James Floris—Jerome Cock—Hans and Paul de Vries—Jacques van Noye—Famous Designers—Characteristics of the Second Period of the Renaissance—Bedsteads, Tables and Chairs, Armoires, Cabinets and Chests—Porcelain, Glass and Glass Cupboards—Windows and Glass-painters—Guicciardini on the Artists of the Low Countries—Paul de Vries—Crispin de Passe the Elder—the Collaerts—Wood-carving—Music and Musical Instruments.

The first half of the sixteenth century in western Europe was completely filled with the ambitions, intrigues and wars of three powerful sovereigns—Charles V, Francis I and Henry VIII. Each of these was a chivalrous and luxurious monarch, devoted to the arts, science and literature. At their courts, the Renaissance received every encouragement; and at their death, half-way through the century, the Renaissance is generally regarded as entering on its second period. Henry and Francis both died in 1547, and Charles in 1558.

On the death of Margaret of Austria in 1530, Charles had intrusted the government of his Burgundian inheritance to his sister, Mary of Hungary. She was as 98liberal a patron of the arts as her aunt Margaret had been. She kept a splendid court, and was entirely in sympathy with the new school. The artists who were struggling against foreign influence could not look to Mary for support. The stream of Flemish pilgrims to Rome was constantly broadening; and the Romanists under her Regency gained disciples daily in Brussels, Mechlin, Liège and Antwerp.

At this period, the Low Countries bowed to no foreign authority in the art domain except the Italian. It must be borne in mind that Charles was a prince of the House of Burgundy, who had been brought up by his aunt, the daughter of the heiress of Burgundy, and the Emperor of Austria. He was a Fleming by birth and training. He was born at Ghent in 1500, and spent the first sixteen years of his life in the Netherlands. His pride in his natal town is well known. It is recorded in his famous pun—that he could put the whole of Paris in his Gant (glove). Spanish influence, therefore, did not affect the studios and workshops of the Flemish hives of industry till late in the century; for when Charles went to Spain, his train was full of Flemings, who influenced Spanish art; but we find no return influx of Spaniards to modify Flemish art. The splendid traditions of the Court of Burgundy still dominated in the Low Countries; and its unbending formality survives in Spain to-day. When Philip II joined his father Charles V in Brussels in 1548, his natural inclination led him readily to adopt the multitudinous equipage and minute and pompous etiquette of his Burgundian ancestors; all this he retained and transmitted to his 99descendants. Till the end of the century, the Flemish Renaissance was a domestic development of purely Italian inspiration. The principal things that the Netherlands obtained from the Iberian peninsula were ornamental leather and Oriental wares, through Lisbon.

The Renaissance gave a great impetus to gilded leathers, the manufacture of which was still flourishing at Cordova and increasing in the Netherlands. It would seem that workmen emigrated from Spain to other countries. Tomaso Gazoni in his Piazza universale (1560) writes regarding gilded leather: “Some people think that the origin of this noble work is due to Spain, because from that country come the best masters of modern times who have obtained the greatest renown in this kind of work.” A native of Cordova, Ambrosio Morales, writing in 1575, says: “This manufacture brings much wealth to the town, and also gives a fine appearance to its principal streets. In truth, when these stamped, painted and gilded leathers are spread out on large tables to dry in the sun they make a beautiful sight, for the streets are adorned with the greatest splendour and variety.”

The inventories of the period show us how important was the use of leather. Margaret of Austria has at Mechlin in 1527 several pieces of “tapisserie de marroquin,” as we have noted.

The gilded leather was often called or bazané and regarded as a mark of opulence. For instance, Pierre Binard, a tapestry-worker and author of a collection of Noëls, dedicated to Marguerite, wife of Henri IV, says in one of his verses:

100Au moins est-elle bien coëffée
De fins rézeaux?
Et sa couche est-elle estoffée
De beaux rideaux?
Son ciel n’est-il pas de brodeure
Tout campané?
N’a-t-il pas aussi pour bordeure
L’or bazané?

The nobles vied with royalty in luxury, and the beautiful tapestries, furniture, gold and silver work, enamels, etc., found ready sale. Such magnificent homes as the Counts of Egmont excited the anger of the populace; and those of many successful artists and rich merchants were hardly inferior.

The clergy did not suffer either. Granvelle, for example, made Bishop of Arras, and chief adviser to Philip II in all the affairs of the Netherlands, had a magnificent establishment. His furniture, tapestry and other personalty amounted to no less than £50,000.

Contemporary travellers are constantly speaking of the startling splendours they encountered in the Low Countries. When Marguerite of Valois, Queen of Navarre, who was certainly used to splendour, went to Spa in 1577, with the excuse to drink the waters, but really to intrigue in Hainault so as to advance the interests of her brother, the Duke d’Alençon, in the Netherlands, she was received at Namur by Don Juan of Austria. When this gallant escort, who rode by her litter, escorted the Queen to her lodgings, she was “astonished at the magnificence of the apartments.”[3] A superb hall gorgeously furnished led into a series of chambers. The bedroom and bed prepared for the 101Queen were hung with superb tapestries, which, appropriately enough, represented the Battle of Lepanto.

3.  Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois.

Antwerp now becomes the centre of commerce, and the town expressed so much wealth and was so crowded with ships that when the Ambassador from Venice, Marino Cavalli, landed on the Scheldt, in 1551, he exclaimed in amazement: “Venice is surpassed!” In 1567, Guicciardini wrote: “One word alone can define the number of trades exercised in Antwerp; it is the word all!”

In 1560, Antwerp numbered three hundred and sixty painters and sculptors: artists and decorators flocked thither, and many new industries were likewise attracted; for instance, Piccol Passo of Urbino established a factory for Italian majolica; Amould van Ort of Nimeguen, the celebrated stained-glass maker, transplanted his workshops; Jahn de Lame of Cremona, Murano glass; and Christopher Plantin of Tours (1514–89), his printing-presses, from which so many books of decorative design were issued. He settled in Antwerp in 1549; but from 1576 to the present day, the business has been conducted in the house known as the Musée Plantin-Moretus, in the Marché du Vendredi. Plantin’s son-in-law Moretus or Moerentorf, succeeded him. In 1876, this house, with its antique furniture, pictures, tapestries and other collections, was bought by the city of Antwerp for a Museum. The greater part of the furniture, staircases, mantelpieces, etc., date from the seventeenth century; but despite this fact and many restorations, this house affords an interesting picture of the dwelling and office of a rich Fleming of the sixteenth 102century. The printing offices are untouched, and two of the rooms are hung with gilt Spanish leather of the sixteenth century.

In the last chapter we brought the masters of Decorative Art down to the middle of the sixteenth century. After these came Cornelius and James Floris, whose family name was de Vriendt. The head of the family, Cornelius de Vriendt, a stone-cutter, used the name of his grandfather, Floris de Vriendt, a member of the Guild des Quatres-Couronnes in 1476. Cornelius had four sons: John, a potter, who settled in Spain; Frans Floris (1518?-70), a painter; James (1524–81), a celebrated glass-painter; and Cornelius (1514–74), a sculptor and architect, who was responsible for the Antwerp Town Hall, the house of the Hanseatic League, the tabernacle of Léan and the rood-loft of the Cathedral of Tournay.

James was also a skilful engraver, and was particularly noted for his panels, or compartments, which in his day were such favourite designs. His drawings were edited by Jerome Cock, and obtained a great success.

Jerome Cock produced a great deal of decorative design in the second half of this century. His figures are graceful and well disposed, and his draperies and garlands of fruits and flowers are charmingly effective. Two of his designs for goldsmiths’ work are reproduced on Plate XIX and Plate XX.

Cornelius and James Floris developed a new style, still known in Flanders as the Floris style. The school included many able designers whose names still survive, 103including that of Vredemann de Vries. The ornamentation is principally composed of “cuirs” cut into various shapes and rolled, accompanied by a mixture of figures, animals, birds, flowers and fruits, all tied together by ornamental motives, ribbons, draperies, etc., a form of decoration which the Flemish masters carried to its highest point of perfection.

It was the custom of the day for these masters of ornament to supply designs for furniture when “the newest thing out” was required. Their designs that have survived consist chiefly of grotesques, cartouches, “cuirs,” panels, compartments, friezes, trophies, “pendeloques” and other goldsmiths’ motives. Contemporary with Floris were Hans Liefrinck (1510–80); Cornelis Matsys (1500–56); Jerome Cock (1510–70); John Landenspelder (b. 1511); Adrian Collaert (b. 1520); Hans Collaert (1540–1622). These all worked at Antwerp.

The most famous designers of the Renaissance, however, were the De Vrieses, father and son, Hans and Paul. Hans Vredemann de Vries, painter, architect, sculptor, designer, and poet, was born at Leeuwarden in Friesland (whence his name) in 1527. For five years he studied in Amsterdam in the studio of Reijnier Gerritsz, the painter, and he studied architecture under Coeck of Alost. His pictures are valued highly and are crowded with architectural details. He also studied painting on glass. Owing to his special aptitudes and varied knowledge, as well as the skill with which he treated the different styles of architecture and ornamentation, he may be said to sum up in himself the great period of the Flemish Renaissance.

104Vredemann published a great many collections of designs that are highly valued for the interesting studies they present of the Flemish Art of the Renaissance. His sons, Paul and Solomon, followed his style.

De Vries was famous for his leather ornamentation (cuirs) and his encoinçons, which apply to oval frames and ornament the corners of twelve of his twenty-one oval plates among the fifty composing the collection, Variae Architecturae formae a Joanne Vredemanni Vriesio, magno artis hujus studiosorum commodo inventae. (See Figs. 17 and 18.)

In his own country, he was called the king of architects. He may be called the Dutch Du Cerceau. He was contemporary with Du Cerceau; and was apparently greatly influenced by the work of the latter, or it may be that they both got their inspiration from the same Italian source. A comparison of the work of the two masters will show individuality in De Vries. His designs are not so light and graceful as the Frenchman’s. Besides all kinds of architecture, gardens, wells, fountains, vases, armour and decorative work for goldsmiths, he designed Differents Pourtraicts de Menuiserie à sçavoir, Portaux, Bancs, Tables, Escabelles, Buffets, Frises, Corniches, Licts de camp, Ornements à prendre à l’essuoir les mains, Fontaines à laver les mains. This collection of designs appeared about 1580, and forms a most valuable record for those who desire to study the style of the early Renaissance in the Netherlands. It is noticeable that the change is not so much in the general form of the furniture as in the ornamentation. As an example, let us take the bedroom (Plate X). 105This was published in 1580; but it evidently belongs to the transitional period, since the furniture reveals almost as many Gothic as Renaissance features.

It will be noticed that De Vries expressly styles his design a modern bedroom; so that it deserves study as the latest novelty about the middle of the sixteenth century. The first thing that strikes one is that though the ornamental details of Gothic tracery have almost disappeared, yet the linen-fold in the panelling is everywhere. Even the dressoir on the left with its Classic columns and spiralled caryatides has Gothic panels; and the presses between the fireplace and the window have Gothic panels with a Renaissance daïs. The long heavy chests that serve as benches also belong to Mediaeval days. The massive table looks transitional also. It is also to be noticed that the furniture cannot yet be designated as “moveables”; it is still an integral part of the carpentry work that lines the walls of the room. The chair beside the bed is the sole note that tones down its severity. At the time the plate was published (1580), the Renaissance was in full flower, and its interest for us lies chiefly in the disposition of the furniture and the evidence it supplies of Gothic tenacity. The floor is tessellated diagonally with squares of wood or stone. The chimney-piece with its funnel-shaped top is essentially the same as represented in miniatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The credence or dressoir is opposite to the door, the bed, well protected by woodwork and curtains against draughts, is close to the fireplace, and the table in front of the window. A general effect of coldness is noticeable, 106due to the almost total lack of upholstery; but this is doubtless owing to the artist’s intent to emphasize the woodwork.

Though De Vries was the most important designer of furniture in the Netherlands during the sixteenth century, he was by no means the only one to influence the taste of the day. There were many architects, goldsmiths and engravers whose designs contributed to the development of the Renaissance style. One of these was Jacques van Noye. He was employed by Cardinal Granvelle, Bishop of Arras, to embellish the palace in Besançon, built by his father, Sebastian van Noye, also a notable architect.

In 1550, Van Noye became architect of Philip II; and called to Spain by the King, died in Madrid. One of his important works was the palace that the Cardinal erected at Brussels on the Coperbeke.

Other designers in decorative art who lived during the second half of the sixteenth century were Mark Geraerts (1530–90); Hendrick van Schoel; Martin de Vos (1531–1603); G. Tielt (1580–1630); Cornelius Grapheus (1549-?); Baltazar Silvius (circ. 1554); Guilhelmus de la Queweelerie (circ. 1560); Peter Miricenis (1520–66); Hans Bol (1535–93); Abraham de Bruyn (1538-?); Crispin de Passe, the Elder (1536-?); Peter van der Borcht (1540–1608); Peter Baltens (1540–79); Paul van Wtanvael (circ. 1570); Nicholas de Bruyn (1560–1635); Clement Perrete (circ. 1569); Assuerus van Londerseel (b. 1548); Jerome Wierix (b. 1551); John Wierix (b. 1550); John Sadeler (1550–1610); Raphael Sadeler (1555–1628); Ægidius Sadeler (1570–1629); Dominic Custode (b. 1560); Ger. Groningus; Cornelis Galle (1570–1641); Philip Galle (1537–1612); Theodore Galle (b. 1560); Cornelis Dankherts (b. 1561); John Sambuci (circ. 1574); Francis Sweert (circ. 1690); Jodocus Hondius (1563–1611); James Hannervogt, and some anonymous engravers.

Fig. 19: Bed, by J. Straden; Figs 20–22: Tables, by De Vries; Fig. 23: Chair and Footstool, by De Vries; Figs. 24–25: Flemish Chairs.

107Of the above, the most prolific were the Galles. They were particularly rich in frames, but their ornamentation already shows signs of the Decadence; and the work of Philip alone shows traces of the pure Renaissance. Most of these masters of ornamental design were natives of, or were attracted to, Antwerp; though some of them travelled far afield. Custode worked at Augsburg; Ægidius Sadeler died at Prague; Geraerts died in England; Cornelius Bos worked in Rome; and Crispin de Passe, the Elder, worked in Utrecht, Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris and London.

In the second period of the Renaissance, the general effect is more severe and geometrical; the projections are more restrained, and the general form of furniture more rectangular. The vertical lines are more conspicuous than the horizontal lines; and columns with elongated shafts and delicate flutings or grooves replace human figures that in the first period of the Renaissance act as uprights and supports. The bed on Plate XIV is a good example of the second period.

There is also during the second period a great, and often elegant, use of ceramics. Some pieces of furniture, particularly cabinets, are decorated with incrustations of stones, amber, enamelled work and even Venetian glass.

108Gothic decoration still lingers for a time in the ordinary bedsteads (see Plate X) but those of the new fashion show all the popular ornaments of the Renaissance. Caryatides sometimes appear as columns; and sometimes and ever more frequently as time wears on, slender pillars cut in the form of balusters, lances or distaffs, often grooved, and more or less decorated with carving. Later in the century, the columns are frequently enveloped in the same material as the hangings, which become so important that the sculptor and joiner give place to the upholsterer and embroiderer. The beds are so high, or built so high with mattresses, that it is impossible to get into them without the aid of bed-steps.

A glance at Plate II will inform us that the bed of the fifteenth century depends more for its effect upon the curtains and other draperies than on the framework. In the time of the Renaissance, we find the bedstead of supreme importance. It is carved in the richest fashion, and is often enriched with gilding and painting; it is also adorned with marquetry. The mattresses, bolsters and pillows are of down or feathers, the sheets and blankets of finest linen and wool, for which Flanders is famous; and the hangings are of silk, velvet, tapestry, serge, or gilded leather. The Renaissance bed is never allowed to stand in an alcove: it is far too handsome a piece of furniture for that. Its canopy, often richly carved, is rectangular and exactly the size of the bed, which is large; and it is no longer suspended by cords from the ceiling, but rests on carved or grooved columns. It is usually finished with a projecting cornice, variously ornamented, and to this cornice the curtains are attached. In Fig. 19 and Plate XII, we see exactly how these curtains were hung. These beds, from engravings by J. Stradan (1578), also show us how the curtains were looped up in the daytime, how the square pillows were placed formally at the foot of the bed, and the shape of the round bolster. These beds could be completely enclosed by curtains.

Plate XII.Bedstead, Chairs and Table, by J. Stradan.

109The bed in Fig. 19 is interesting as an example of a Renaissance bed without supporting corner posts. The canopy and curtains are evidently suspended from the ceiling by cords in the old style, for there is no woodwork visible above the carved head-board. This is very unusual and is doubly interesting as the bed in Plate XII, by the same artist, is massive in form, and the dome is supported by strong Classic columns. In the latter design the curtains are looped around the columns and a pillow is placed on the bolster at the back. The canopy is dome-shaped and the top of each column is decorated with a “pomme,” destined to develop and survive as a decoration for the bedstead. The head-board is quite ornate, and the bedstead, like that in Fig. 19, stands upon a low platform.

A similar dome-topped bed appears in the inner room in the background of Plate XXIV.

One of De Vries’ designs for a bed is reproduced on Plate XIII. It has a heavy panelled head-board surmounted by a pediment with pommes; and the four supporting posts consist of turned caryatides. The bedstead proper that holds the mattress and other bedding is supported independently by vase-shaped legs. The frieze of the canopy is decorated with scroll-work. 110In this style of bed, the curtains did not hide the elaborately carved woodwork; they hung from the cornice and feet inside the outer posts. The hangings could thus be very sumptuous without detracting from the effect of the carved woodwork. Plate XIV, which represents a beautiful bed of this period, massive and richly carved, shows the same arrangement of curtains. It should be borne in mind that wherever the framework is richly carved, curtains were never intended to hide it. This magnificent specimen, from the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, is of beautiful proportions. The ornamentation is chaste and in perfect harmony, consisting of carved panels, cornice and Corinthian columns. The woodwork is walnut and the hangings are pale blue damask.

The Plantin Museum in Antwerp contains an armoire and a bed after the designs of De Vries.

Another De Vries bed in the now dispersed Minard of Ghent collection had a canopy and balusters and the central part was arranged in the form of an armoire with two shutters decorated with low reliefs of religious subjects. Upon the upper gallery was a cartouche held by two angels, and on this cartouche the inscription, “Vriese inv. 1565.”

Plate XIII.Bedstead, by De Vries.

An interesting example of Renaissance work is the bedstead on Plate XI. The distaff or lance-shaped columns shoot boldly upward from a floral calix that stands on the head of a mermaid at the foot, and the head of a merman at the head of the bed. A frame for a dome-shaped canopy is connected with the four posts by a tester. The bedstead is panelled and stands 111on four large square blocks. In the centre of the headboard is a cartouche for a coat-of-arms; in the centre of the footboard the head of a cherub is carved. The peculiar characteristic of the decoration of this piece of furniture is that the scrolls are all carved in the shape of the human ear. This is an early example of the genre auriculaire, which was destined to become popular in Flanders and Germany. On this piece of furniture the ear is omnipresent—on the head and foot board, on the sweeps of the canopy and on the square feet—wriggling, squirming and unrestful.

Folding-beds are frequently mentioned in the inventories. Margaret of Austria (1523), had two wooden camp or folding-beds.

The Flemings were particularly skilful in the production of tables and chairs. We have now come a long distance from the simple board and trestles of the past, for we find dining-tables, writing-tables, bureau-tables, card-tables, chair-tables, bench-tables (tables à banc), round tables, square tables, oval tables, tables that stand on one foot, tables that stand on three feet, and tables of walnut, oak, maple, cedar, cypress, marble and even silver. We also find tables of mosaic work and of marquetry and tables beautifully carved and embellished with gold.

The drawing-table was much in vogue. It was composed of extra leaves superimposed on lower ones that could be drawn forward so that the top leaves could fall into the space they made and form with the lower leaves, thus lengthened, one continuous surface. The mechanism by which these leaves were lengthened and dropped was very intricate and ingenious. Jacques 112Wecker, a physician of Colmar, in his treatise De Secretis (Bâle, 1582), says: “One must not despise the make of these tables that I have often seen in Ghent in Flanders.”

The tables designed by De Vries and reproduced in Figs. 20, 21 and 22, are a great advance on the one that appears in his Cubiculum. (Plate X.) The form is much the same as those in Figs. 20 and 21, but the linenfold has given way to panels and pilasters of pure Renaissance character and the corner supports of sphinxes and animals and vases have no memory of the Gothic age. Fig. 22 shows us a table of an entirely different character. It is much lighter and has drawers. With its foot-rails it is well adapted for a dining-table.

A much more ornate specimen of this period called a “fan-shaped table,” (“table à l’éventail”) is owned by the Dijon Museum. It is of Burgundian workmanship. The support, which still shows traces of gilding, is formed of an eagle with outspread wings standing between two winged chimaera with lions’ paws, these paws connected with a straining-rail, or stretcher. The open-work shelf is ornamented with leaves and a mascaron, and the two upper and lower straining rails are ornamented with a very clearly defined and handsome decoration. The top of the table is surrounded by a thread of marquetry.

Folding-tables were also in use; in Margaret of Austria’s inventory, mention is made of “a little table in the Spanish fashion which opens and closes.”

Plate XIV.Bedstead.


Chairs are still heavy and carved more or less richly. Two typical specimens appear in Plate XII. As shown 113in these examples, the seats and backs were often covered with stamped leather, velvet, silk, or some woollen material and ornamented with tassels. The covers are tacked to the frame by means of large-headed nails that also form part of the decoration. A chair and footstool by Vredemann de Vries, of very characteristic model, are shown in Fig. 23. The chair is three-cornered, with a triangular seat, and the legs are connected with straining-rails. It much resembles the voyeuse of which Cardinal Mazarin had several; and which was again popular in the days of Louis XVI, in France and elsewhere. It was essentially a chair for a man, who faced the back and rested his arms on the top rail.

A Flemish chair of the second half of the sixteenth century is reproduced in Figs. 24 and 25. This is pure Renaissance in its simplest and certainly its least elegant form. The legs consist of Doric columns connected by stretchers close to the ground. The back slants, and is of somewhat confused carved decoration consisting of a mascaron and Classic architectural and floral motives.

When not built in the panels of the room, the armoire bears a very close likeness to the large double cabinet with doors, which is, as we have seen, merely a chest-upon-chest, and which we shall find developing into the great Dutch kas of the seventeenth century. Plate XV shows the great double cabinet, or armoire, of the Renaissance with carved panels, pillars and caryatides. This stands on ball feet. It is of the same period as the bed represented in Plate XIV.

A magnificent specimen of the late sixteenth century, now in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, is reproduced 114in Plate XVIII. This is in two stories and is frankly architectural. The doors of the armoire, or cabinet, are decorated to look like windows, and the niches and pilasters lend their aid in making the front of this piece of furniture look like the façade of a handsome Renaissance residence.

Cabinets or armoires designed by De Vries are reproduced in Plate XIX and Plate XX. As usual, we have a large choice in central and side supports, pediments and panels. There is a good variety of mascarons for the cabinet-maker to select from. It will be noticed that the “cuirs,” so popular with the designers of the period, enter largely into the decoration of the doors and drawers.

Spanish influence was now making itself felt. Hispano-Flemish carving appears on many a panel and drawer front towards the end of this century. Characteristic carving of this style is shown in Fig. 26 and Fig. 27.

Perhaps of all kinds of furniture, Flanders excelled in making cabinets. Antwerp was especially renowned for them. The cabinet is, of course, an object of special luxury, for the display of little articles of value possessed only by the rich. Whether carved or inlaid, its shelves were lined with crimson velvet, cloth of gold, green taffeta, or beautifully tooled leather; and very frequently silvered ribbon twined into a kind of geometrical lattice-work into the initials or monogram of the owner of the cabinet was hung behind the glass and supplied with hooks from which jewels, watches, pocket-mirrors and other pretty trinkets were suspended. A cabinet collection in the sixteenth century included watches, jewels, rings, bracelets, necklaces, pearls from the Orient, gold and silver work, buttons, perfumed gloves, costly musk and amber, scent-bottles, pomanders on handsome chains, small scissors, pocket knives, pocket mirrors, coral beads, rosaries of rock-crystal, little books, eau de Damas, eau de rose, eau d’oeillet, and other delicate essences, medals, little pictures, rare stones, fans, etc.

Plate XV.Armoire.


115French noblemen had such a fancy for collecting Flemish cabinets that Henri IV sent French workmen to the Netherlands to learn the art of making these choice pieces of furniture, and particularly the trick of carving in ebony. On their return, he established them in the Louvre. The first was Laurent Stabre; another was Pierre Boulle (uncle of the great André Charles Boulle), supposed to be of Flemish origin. Jean Macé, who called himself “menuisier-ébéniste de Blois,” was also given a studio in the Louvre, “on account of his long practice of this art in the Low Countries, and the skill he has shown in his cabinet-work in ebony and other woods of various colours that he has presented to the Regent Queen.”

Another cabinet-maker who lived in the Louvre was Pierre Golle, a native of the Netherlands, whose name was originally Goler, and who left Holland at Mazarin’s request to settle in Paris. He made various artistic pieces for the Dauphin, the great Cardinal and other patrons of art.

Burgundy was also remarkable for its cabinets, and made a specialty of wall-cabinets that hung at the sides of a room on invisible supports. A famous specimen 116of Burgundian work was bought several years ago at the Soltykoff sale by the Baron Sellières, for no less than 16,500 francs! It was a large double cabinet, the two parts of nearly equal dimensions, both ornately carved with satyrs, fruits, garlands, palms, Tritons and Nereids.

The chest is as important as ever. It is found in every room in the house. In it are kept household linen, clothing and many treasures and gifts. When the top is flat, in which case the article is still called huche, it often serves as a seat. Although the chest is finely carved in the sixteenth century, it never attains the sumptuousness nor the delicacy of either dressoir or cabinet; it always remains a robust piece of furniture. It is decorated with architectural motives, fantastic arabesques, panels ornamented with bas-reliefs representing Biblical or mythological scenes, allegorical subjects, pilasters in the form of terms, and not unfrequently mascarons. Sometimes chests are covered with stamped leather and sometimes decorated with marquetry.

Flemish chests were in great demand in France. In an inventory, we learn that Marguerite des Bordes, Bordeaux, had, in 1589, a “bahut de Flandres,” barred with iron bands, two locks and keys; George Beaunon, a merchant of Bordeaux, had, in 1607, “more than one coffre de Flandres,” garnished with bands of white iron and three little “cassettes de boys de Flandres” were owned by Nicholas Lemerotel of St. Malo in 1638.

Plate XVI.Glass Cupboard, or Vitrine, by De Vries.

Porcelain as yet was very rare, though kings and rich nobles had a few pieces of this ware on their shelves. Philip II had quite a respectable collection of ceramics, and wealthy Flemings were always fond of foreign and 117domestic wares of this nature. Palissy was at work and his productions were highly prized. The Netherlands had a brisk trade by sea with Portugal, and through Lisbon considerable quantities of porcelain were finding their way into the cupboards of the wealthy. Venetian glass also was highly prized, so that we are not astonished to find De Vries devoting a good deal of attention to designing vitrines, or small cupboards with glass fronts, for the preservation and safe display of glass, china and earthenware. In many instances, these were elaborately carved with all the Renaissance ornamentation. Four handsome glass cupboards or vitrines, designed by De Vries, are shown in Plate XVI and Plate XVII. In the centre of the broken pediments, we see Bacchus and Cupid. The supporting sides consist of Classic columns, pilasters or caryatides; and all the decoration is in harmony with the rest of the furniture of this period.

On looking over the pictures by the great artists of the Netherlands, we cannot help noticing their delight in painting glass. The play of light and shade, and direct and reflected rays in flasks, bottles, vases, goblets and wine glasses of varied form strongly appealed to the great masters of genre and still life.

The Flemings of the sixteenth century undoubtedly manufactured much glass for home consumption and export. England took all they and Germany and France could supply. Queen Elizabeth tried to attract glass-blowers to settle in her realm. The first recorded name to accept the invitation is that of Cornelius de Launoy. In 1567, the Queen sent to the Low Countries for Jean Quarré, a native of Antwerp, and other workers in glass, 118to establish a factory for making the same kind of glass as existed in France.

The windows not only of churches but of civic and palatial buildings were beautified with the work of great artists. Even in more modest dwellings, the windows of the hall, studio, or living-room were decorated with the coat-of-arms of the owner.

Designs for painted windows formed by no means an unimportant part of the activities of a great artist; in fact, they held the same rank as cartoons for tapestry. In 1567, Guicciardini notes as follows:

“But it is also proper to mention some eminent artists in encaustic or painting on glass, inasmuch as this department has also its pretensions to importance; and Vasari has observed that the Flemings have brought it to perfection. For, not to dwell on the beauty and vivacity of the colours, they invented the mode of burning them into the glass, so as to be safe from the corrosion of water, wind and even time; which was not the case when they were only tempered with gum and some other mixture. And the Flemings also invented the manner of making leaden casements.

“The first eminent painters on glass were Arnold van Hordt of Nymwegen, and a citizen of Antwerp, a great imitator of the Italian school and the first inventor of the art of burning colours into crystalline glass. Theodore Jacobs Felaet, an artist of eminent invention; Theodore Stass of Campen; John Ack of Antwerp, who executed the windows in St. Gudule’s Church and the Chapel of the Sacrament at Brussels; Cornelis of Bois-le-Duc.

Plate XVII.Glass Cupboard, or Vitrine, by De Vries.

119“There still flourish Cornelis Dale, who, with singular art, burns any colours, not only into glass, but into crystal, so that they appear like painting in oil; and his designs are elegant; Jodoc Vereg, a skilful artist, employed by the Emperor; James Florence, all of Antwerp. John Stass, son of the above Theodore and the heir of his father’s talents; John Zele of Utrecht. Nor in architecture and sculpture have excellent artists been wanting in the Netherlands. Such were Sebastian Oje of Utrecht, the celebrated architect to Charles V, and afterwards to Philip his son. He, to his great praise, planned the fortifications of Hesdin, Charlmont, and Philipville, strong towns on the frontiers. William Keur of Gouda, a good architect, a superior sculptor. Among others were John Dale, a sculptor and poet; Lucas van Leyden, a celebrated engraver (1495–1533); William of Antwerp, a famous architect. There still flourish James Bruck of St. Omers, a man of noble birth and an excellent sculptor and architect, who, while the Queen of Hungary governed the Netherlands, planned Bossu and Marimont and some grand buildings. John Bologne of Douay, his disciple, now employed by the Duke of Florence. John Minsheeren of Ghent, an excellent architect and sculptor, whose son Lucas, is an eminent painter, the inventor of many things and excels in poetry; Matthew Mandemaker of Antwerp, a famous sculptor, in the service of the King of the Romans; Cornelis Florence, brother of Francis, an excellent sculptor and architect, diligent and attentive, who has the praise of first bringing from Italy the art of accurately rendering the insides of caves called by the Italians grotescas. 120Henry Paschen of Antwerp, an excellent architect, who designed the Palace and office of the Hansa towns in Antwerp, and was afterwards called to London to plan the Exchange; Lambert Suaf of Liège, a good architect and engraver; James Iongeling of Antwerp, an excellent sculptor and statuary, who lately made those wonderful brass statues of the seven planets and Bacchus which the magistrates of Antwerp presented to the Prince of Parma; William Paludan, brother of the above Henry, a great and accurate sculptor, whose son Raphael is also of high repute; John Sart of Nymegen, an excellent sculptor, as are Simon of Delft and Jodoc Janson of Amsterdam; George Robins of Yperen, Theodore Volcart Cornhert and Philip Galle, both of Haarlem, exquisite engravers.”

Guicciardini continues: “The others it would be prolix to enumerate,” and informs us that most of these artists visit Italy. “Some return loaded with wealth and honour to their native country,” while “others go to Great Britain and Germany, but chiefly to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland and even Muscovy, not to mention those who, allured by honours and rewards, visit France, Spain and Portugal.”

The younger De Vries (Paul), was born at Antwerp in 1554. He designed Plusieurs menuiseries comme Portaulx, Garderobes, Buffets, Chalicts, Tables, Arches, Selles, Bancs, Escabelles, Rouleaux à pendre, touailles, Casses à vertes et beaucoup d’autres ouvrages. The style of furniture shown in the works of the De Vrieses lasted till Rubens arose.

Plate XVIII.Flemish Armoire.

Figs. 26–27: Hispano-Flemish Drawers.

Crispin de Passe, or Van der Passe the elder, was 121born in Arnemuiden about 1560, and was a pupil of Dirk Coornhert (born in Amsterdam in 1522, died in Gouda in 1590). He left a great number of compositions and many remarkable portraits painted in Germany, France, and England, as well as in Holland. A writer, too, of considerable merit, he published many works which he illustrated with his own engravings. In 1585, he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke of Antwerp. Being such a fine engraver, it is not astonishing to find that he excelled in niello-work. His composition in this medium, representing “The Five Senses,” resembles in its delicacy the lace, embroidery and incrustations of ivory of the same period. His patterns, sometimes in relief and sometimes in depression, sometimes in white and sometimes in black, are very beautiful. Crispin de Passe had three sons: Crispin (born in Utrecht in 1585); William (1590); and Simon (1591), all of whom were excellent engravers. His daughter, Madeleine (born 1583), was also a good engraver.

Among the famous engravers also were the Collaerts. Adrian Collaert, born in Antwerp in 1560, was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke in 1580, and died in 1618. He studied in Italy and on his return composed and engraved many designs of great merit. His son, Hans, born in Antwerp, was also a designer and engraver of note. He worked until 1622. His son, William, was a famous engraver.

Adrian Collaert’s designs for goldsmith’s work, silver plate and all artistic products of that nature had a great vogue, and worthily represent the decorations of the Flemish Renaissance. Two of his characteristic 122designs are reproduced in Plate XXI and Plate XXII.

Wood-carving continued to be one of the glories of Flemish Art. Sixteenth century pulpits, bishops’ thrones and choir-stalls still exist in many of the old churches. The names of some of the masters of the chisel who executed these beautiful works have been preserved, and may properly be recalled here.

St. Martin’s Church at Ypres contains beautiful stalls carved by Victor Taillebert. He received four thousand florins in payment for his work.

Colyn van Cameryck made a magnificent marble mantelpiece for the Kampen Town Hall. The work was done between 1543 and 1545.

Jean van der Scheldein, carpenter and sculptor, made a monumental door in the Hôtel de Ville, Oudenarde, in the Renaissance style in 1531. This is ornamented with columns, a pediment, figures and rectangular panels adorned with arabesques in the best taste and with masterly execution.

Peter van Dulcken carved the beautiful stalls for the échevins, and the balustraded screen of the Nimeguen Town Hall, in the second half of the sixteenth century. These are the finest that have escaped destruction except those of the Kampen Town Hall, which are even more elaborate.

Plate XIX.Cabinet, or Armoire, by De Vries; Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Jerome Cock.

The Netherlands early enjoyed a reputation for music, and from about 1450 to 1550 the most celebrated “maîtres de chapelle” came from the Low Countries. They were engaged in the churches and in the courts of kings and establishments of the nobility in France, Germany, Italy, 123Hungary, Denmark and Spain. Guicciardini says they had brought music “to a state of perfection,” and praises the melodious songs of the men and the skill of the women who played all kinds of instruments. He also pays tribute to their knowledge of harmony and proficiency in composition and says that Flemish musicians are at the “Court of every Christian prince,” and he then gives a list of famous musicians of the Low Countries. These are “Giovanni del Tintore di Nivelli, Iusquino di Pres, Obrecht Ockegem, Ricciafort, Adriano Willaert, Giovanni Monton, Verdelot, Gomberto Lupus Lupi, Cortois Crequillon, Clementi non Papa and Cornelio Canis.” To these, “who are now dead,” he adds the following list of living celebrities: Cipriano de Rove, Gian le Coick, Filippo de Monti, Orlando di Lassus, Mancicourt, Iusquino Baston, Christiano Hollando, Giaches di Waet, Bonmarche, Severino Cornetto, Piero du Hot, Gherardo di Tornout, Huberto Waelrant, Giachetto di Berckem vicino d’Anversa, Andrea Peuermage and Cornelio Verdonk and “many other masters of music who are celebrated throughout the world.”

This universal love of music is attested by the Dutch and Flemish masters. In tavern scenes, as well as scenes of domestic and social life, musical instruments are frequently introduced. To catalogue the works of Jan Steen, Terborch, Teniers, Metsu, Van Mieris and other painters of the seventeenth century directly inspired by music, such as musical parties, harpsichord lessons, duets, lute-players, ladies at the spinet, etc., would be quite a task.

No home of wealth was complete without musical 124instruments, and owing to the exquisite paintings with which the case and top, both inside and out, were ornamented, the clavecin, harpsichord, or spinet was frequently the handsomest and costliest piece of furniture in the house. The case and legs were subject to changes in fashion. Sometimes the stand is simple with heavy ball feet connected by stretchers, as shown in Plate XXIII, a Lady Playing the Spinet, by J. M. Molenaer, in the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam. Sometimes the instrument stands on baluster legs and arches; and sometimes case and stand are of lacquer in the prevailing taste for the Chinese style. The top was always delicately painted, as shown in the picture just referred to; and it is interesting to note that in nearly every case where a lady is playing an instrument, she rests her foot upon a foot-warmer.

Without being able to see the internal mechanism, it is difficult to define the precursors of the pianoforte from their outward appearance in the pictures.

These instruments were so beautifully decorated that the clavecin-makers of Antwerp ranked as artists and became members of the St. Luke’s Guild of that city. They were first enrolled as “painters and sculptors,” and not as clavecin-makers.

According to a pamphlet entitled Recherches sur les Facteurs de Clavecins et les Luthiers d’Anvers, by the Chevalier Léon de Burbure (Brussels, 1863), at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries, the clavichord was in greater vogue than the clavecin, and about 1500 the clavecin had been made into the clavichord shape in Venice and called the spinet. The new form soon travelled to the Netherlands and superseded the clavichord.

Plate XX.Cabinet, or Armoire, by De Vries; Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Jerome Cock.

125A clavecin-maker named Josse Carest or Joos Kerrest was admitted to the St. Luke’s Guild as “a sculptor and painter of clavichords” as noted in De Liggeren en andere Historische Archieven der Antwerpsche Sint Lucasgilde, by Rombouts en van Lerius (Antwerp and The Hague, 1872), and another Carest had been admitted in 1519 as an apprentice painter of clavecins. In 1557, Josse Carest headed a petition of clavecin-makers to be admitted to the St. Luke’s Guild as clavecin-makers and not as painters and sculptors. They were accepted. Their pupils and all who were subsequently admitted had to exhibit “master-works,” namely: “clavecins” that were oblong or with bent sides (square or grand, we should call them now) or to quote directly “viercante oft gehoecte clavisimbale.” These had to be five feet long at least and made in the workshops of master-experts (two of whom were yearly elected) and to have the trade mark or device of the maker “syn eygen marck teecken, oft wapene.” This mark, known as rose, rosetta or rosace, usually made of gilded lead, was placed in the sound-holes.

The most famous clavecin-makers of Antwerp, and, indeed, of The Netherlands, were the Ruckers, who worked between 1579 and 1667, or later. The name is variously written. The most celebrated was Hans Ruckers, who was admitted a member of the St. Luke’s Guild in 1579 as “Hans Ruyckers, clavisinbal makerre.” His beautiful instruments were bought in France and England, as well as in the Low Countries; and it is thought that Queen Elizabeth owned one. In England 126they were called virginals. Many of the Ruckers’ instruments are still in existence, owned by collectors and museums. The Museum of the Brussels Conservatory owns an oblong one, dated 1610. This has two keyboards, one above the other, and consists of 4½ octaves, and white naturals. The Museum of the Paris Conservatory has one of 5 octaves, black naturals, and bent side, dated 1590; The Musée du Steen, Antwerp, owns an oblong one dated 1611; and Messrs. Chappell and Co., of London, have an undated oblong of 4 octaves. This stands on an arcade with six balusters and is decorated with fine paintings. A similar instrument on Plate XXIIIa, by this maker, is in the Steinert collection at Yale University, U.S.A. It is a double spinet of four octaves. The painting on the lid represents the favourite Apollo and Marsyas contest. Above, and below the movable spinet are painted landscapes with children dancing. The little spinet on the left, which sets into the spinet proper, is tuned one octave higher than the one on the right. In performing upon both instruments at once, the smaller instrument is removed and set upon a table. On the jack rails of both spinets may be read: “Johannes Ruqvers me fecit.”

Martinus Vander Biest entered the St. Luke’s Guild of Antwerp in 1558 as one of the ten clavecin-makers. An oblong clavecin, made by him in Antwerp is in the Museum at Nuremberg, and is signed and dated Martinus Vander Biest, 1580.

Plate XXI.Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Adrian Collaert.

Hans Ruckers the younger, known as Jean, because he used the initials J. R. in his rose, was also a master in the St. Luke’s Guild of Antwerp. He made beautiful 127instruments from 1617 to 1642. These were of both shapes, bent side and oblong, were furnished with one or two keyboards and were sometimes decorated with paintings in Vernis Martin. A beautiful example with two keyboards, 4¾ octaves, black naturals, owned by the Baroness James de Rothschild. The case and top are black and gold lacquer in the Chinese style, and the painting inside the top is said to be by Lancret. It is dated 1630 and inscribed “Joannes Ruckers me fecit, Antverpiae.” Another by the same maker, also in a black and gold case, is owned by the South Kensington Museum. This is bent side, has one keyboard and is dated 1639. The Museum of the Paris Conservatory also owns a bent side clavecin, made by Jean Ruckers, of two keyboards and 5 octaves. This is painted outside by Teniers and Brouwer and inside by Breughel and Paul Bril. To him has also been attributed a spinet in the Cluny Museum with bent side, one keyboard, 4½ octaves and blackwood case incrusted with ivory.

In 1638, the private secretary of Charles I, Sir F. Windebank, had a long correspondence with a painter named Balthazar Gerbier, then in Brussels, regarding the purchase of a virginal in Antwerp for the King of England. Gerbier described one made by Hans Ruckers for the Infanta. It had a double keyboard and four stops and was beautifully painted. The picture inside the cover was Cupid and Psyche by Rubens. This instrument was bought for £30, but was unsatisfactory on account of insufficient compass. Gerbier was asked to exchange it, but he wrote back that the maker had not another on sale.

Andries Ruckers, another son of the elder Hans, was 128born in 1579. In 1619, the Guild of St. Luke ordered a clavecin from him. The Museum of the Brussels Conservatory owns one dated 1613, with one keyboard and four octaves. The Musée Archéologique of Bruges owns a bent side one, dated 1624, of 5 octaves and 3 stops, and the Musée du Steen, Antwerp has a bent side one, undated, with 3 stops and two keyboards, the lower one 4 octaves and the upper 3¾ octaves. In the South Kensington Museum there is another by Andries Ruckers, said to have been Handel’s. This is dated 1651, and inscribed Sic transit Gloria Mundi and Acta Virum Probant. On the belly of the instrument, of the bent side shape, a concert of monkeys is represented. One monkey is conducting.

Andries Ruckers the younger, born in 1617, married a daughter of Dirck de Vries, also a clavecin-maker. The Château de Perceau, near Cosné, owned a bent side clavecin by Andries the younger, dated 1655. Its case was painted in blue camaïeu in the rococo style. This passed to a private collector.

Christofel Ruckers was the last important member of this family of clavecin-makers.

A beautifully decorated clavecin occurs in the picture of The Young Scholar and His Sister, by Cocx (Coques) in the Cassel Gallery. The room is decorated with hangings of blue leather, ornamented with gold, above which hang pictures in ebony frames. The young man is seated at a table beneath the window and his sister is at the clavecin opposite. The latter is exquisitely painted, the top showing the story of Apollo and Marsyas.

Plate XXII.Design for Goldsmith’s Work, by Adrian Collaert.

In the latter part of the sixteenth and throughout the 129seventeenth centuries, the bass viol was much played in England, France and the Low Countries and was called the viol da gamba. This instrument frequently appears in the works of the Dutch masters, in which not unfrequently ladies are represented playing it, as, for example, in Jan Verkolje’s (1650–93) Musical Party in the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, where the lady is seated upon a low-backed leather chair with her foot upon a foot-warmer. The instrument is turned from the spectator.

The lute, which so frequently appears in early pictures, was superseded about 1600 by the theorbo, or double-necked lute with two sets of strings and two sets of tuning pegs. The theorbo is represented in Terborch’s Lute-Player in The Cassel Gallery; a lute also appears in Van Mieris’s The Painter and his Wife in the Hague Gallery, a charming domestic picture, in which the painter is teasing a puppy and its mother. The lute lies carelessly on the table.

Brassware contributed very greatly to the brightness and cheerfulness of an apartment during the Renaissance period as well as during the centuries before and after. The chandelier with its graceful curves appears in many a picture; and the best art of the day was devoted to the hearth-furnishings. Dogs and andirons assumed large proportions and considerable decorative importance. An interesting Flemish dog of the sixteenth century is represented in Fig. 28. It is similar to those metal andirons on the hearth in Plate XXIV. Besides human and animal figures, this kind of dinanderie assumed many other forms. Other kinds of dinanderie, consisting of candlesticks of human figures in contemporary costumes are shown in Fig. 29 and Fig. 30.



Renewed Italian Influence—Rubens: his Studio, his House, his Pupils, his Influence, his Successors—Seventeenth Century Woodcarvers—Developments and Tendencies of Furniture—Crispin Van Den Passe—Rembrandt’s Goods and Chattels—Old Belgian Houses—The Pitsembourg—Kitchens—Leather-hangings—Tapestry—Marquetry—Chairs—Masters of Ornamental Design—The “Auricular Style.”

Just as the seventeenth century was about to dawn, the Decadence that had affected Italy for nearly half a century began to make itself felt in the Low Countries. Those responsible for it were, Michael Angelo and Borromeo, who abandoned the graceful forms of the Renaissance for disproportionate and exuberant decoration. The Flemish architects, artists, and decorative designers willingly subjected themselves to the Italian influence again as they had done a century before.

Rubens undoubtedly had the greatest influence on the art taste of Europe during the first three-quarters of the seventeenth century. Going to Italy in 1600, he spent, with short breaks, seven years there. He found that the Italians had already broken away from the sober lines of the antique, and with an unrestrained curve were already giving promise of the exaggerations indulged in later by Borromini, who, in line and form, broke with all the old traditions. Rubens was affected by the new 132vogue; and, on his return, the great Fleming introduced into his own country the style of architecture and ornamentation still known as the style Rubens. Rubens was too well inspired with the genius of the sublime Michael Angelo not to know where to use restraint, but in the hands of his followers and imitators this style soon degenerated. From breadth and amplitude, it fell into weakness of form and contour, and great heaviness in the ornamentation.

Albert and Isabella kept a splendid Archducal court at Brussels, and there every form of art was sure of encouragement and support. The palace was an imposing mass, picturesquely situated in the highest part of the city. A French visitor in 1612 dwells on the magnificence of the various apartments filled with splendid works of art, and thronged with courtiers and attendants, the richness of the equipages and stables, and the beauty of the park and gardens. When Rubens visited Brussels at the Imperial request, he immediately found favour.

When Rubens took up his abode in Antwerp, he bought a house, and altered and enlarged it from time to time to suit his tastes or needs. He embellished it in every possible way with his collections of pictures, busts and archaeological objects. In 1617, he had the banisters of the chief staircase carved by Jan van Mildert. He had very decided ideas on architecture, and supplied the workmen with his own plans. He was originally attracted to the house because it was built somewhat on the model of the Italian houses he had so greatly admired. In 1622, he published a book on the Palaces of Genoa, and from the preface we learn that he was greatly delighted to see the old style known as “barbarous” or “Gothic” go out of style and disappear from Flanders, “giving place, to the great honour of the country, to symmetrical buildings designed by men of better taste, and conforming to the rules of the Greek or Roman antique.”

Plate XXIII.Lady at Spinet, by J. M. Molenaer.


133Between the courtyard and his beautiful Italian garden, he built a small imitation Pantheon, lighted, like its model, by a window in the centre of the dome. This he filled with busts, antique studies, valuable pictures brought from Italy, and other rare and curious objects. These he arranged to his own taste; and the arrangement of his cabinets, etc., served as a model for rich and noble collectors.

A picture representing Rubens’s Drawing-room is in the National Gallery, Stockholm. It has been attributed to Van Dyck, but it is now supposed to have been painted by Cornelis de Vos about 1622, for the elder of the two women in the foreground seems to be a portrait of De Vos’s wife, while the other is Isabella Brandt, Rubens’s first wife.

The room is simple but quite elegant in style, with windows looking out upon a garden. The walls are entirely hung with greenish leather on which the designs—chimaeras and children grouped around vases and pillars—are in gold. The chimney-piece is of black marble supported by red marble pillars, and the firedogs are brass. On the right is a sideboard of light polished oak, and opposite a table with a rich Oriental carpet for a cover. Upon the leather chairs are cushions embroidered with flowers. Two pictures hang on the 134walls, and a third is above the chimney-piece. In the foreground, there are two ladies engaged in friendly conversation, while three children are playing with a puppy. The mother of the latter, a white spaniel marked with red, anxiously watches this second group.

In the sale inventory of Rubens’s house in 1707 there is mention of the gilded leather that decorated one of the sitting-rooms.

Plate XXIIIa.Spinet, by Ruckers.


This interior in general style and arrangement resembles a painting by Barthol. van Bassen, in the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, reproduced on Plate XXIV. This represents a large hall or dining-room of the beginning of the seventeenth century. The floor is tessellated or tiled; and facing the spectator is a monumental chimney-piece supported by columns. Two superb andirons are placed in the fireplace, but the absence of logs and the fireback show that the time is spring or summer. The mantelpiece is surmounted by a niche containing a figure, and above the broken pediment is a cartouche flanked by reclining figures in the Renaissance style. On either side of the chimney-piece stands a chair of the new style with square back and square seat. The square seat and back of velvet or stamped leather—it is not clear what the covering is—is put on by means of large brass-headed nails. The heavy legs are connected by stretchers. These chairs are similar to the one on Plate XXVIII; but in the latter the stretchers are double. On either side of the chimney-piece is a door. One of these is open and shows an inner room containing an upholstered bed. The doors are very decorative with heavy entablatures supported on columns and decorated with swags of 135drapery on the panels. On the right is a colossal buffet or sideboard, the pillars being caryatides, and behind these is a half-hexagon cupboard. Busts and vases adorn the top. Below is a fine salver, evidently in the style of Collaert (see Plates XXI and XXII). A very ornate doorway leads into an adjoining apartment; it is ornamented with caryatides and decorated with elaborate carving. Opposite to this is an open portal that seems to be the entrance from the garden, or courtyard. This door is supported by Corinthian columns. Three large and narrow windows give abundant light. Their panes are small. The room is hung with gilt leather and above the moulding are three landscapes in simple frames. A picture—The Sacrifice of Abraham—stands over the sideboard and a landscape over the door on the right. A long, low bench is placed under the window, on which a gallant is lounging. The chair occupied by the lady with her back to us is a survival of the one shown in Fig. 9, and also generally resembles those in Plates XXVI and XLII and XLVI; a favourite type of chair with the artists of the seventeenth century. The group in the foreground are sitting on stools. The wine-cooler is also worth noting. There are a number of pets in the room—dogs, cats, a monkey and a long-tailed parrot over the door. The compartment ceiling—an extraordinary combination of octagons, hexagons and crosses—should be noticed.

Although Rubens did not know it, Antwerp received a fatal blow to her prosperity at the very moment he settled there. In the truce with Holland concluded in 1609, the Archduke Albert neglected to stipulate for the 136free navigation of the Scheldt; this enabled Amsterdam to develop her own commerce at the expense of her rival. The effects soon appeared. Seven years later, the English ambassador, Rubens’s friend, describes Antwerp as “magna civitas, magna solitudo, for in the whole time we spent there I could never set my eyes on the whole length of a street upon forty persons at once: I never saw coach nor saw man on horseback. In many places, grass grows in the streets, yet the buildings are all kept in reparation ... splendida paupertas, fair and miserable.”

As if in compensation for the loss of her commercial supremacy, Antwerp saw the dawn of an art of which Rubens was the originator and most brilliant representative.

The pupils of Rubens did not confine themselves to painting and ornamental design. They were often practical carvers also. Only a month before his death, Rubens wrote a testimonial for Louis Faydherbe, stating that this pupil had lived with him for three years and had made great progress in painting and carving, excelling especially in ivory carving. He therefore exhorts nobles and magistracies to encourage him to settle among them and embellish their dwellings with his works. Thus we see how the style Rubens extended.

Plate XXIV.Interior, by Barthol van Bassen (Seventeenth Century).


Fig. 28: Flemish Andiron (Sixteenth Century); Fig. 29: Dinanderie, double Candlestick; Fig. 30: Dinanderie, single Candlestick.

The universality of the style Rubens in Western Europe for half a century is undeniable. This great genius was known and honoured in Italy: he was a favourite of the King of Spain and his brother, the Viceroy of the Netherlands; when he was not painting nor designing something, he took a rest by going to some foreign court on an embassy. On one of these, Charles I of England knighted 137him; Philip IV made him Secretary of the Privy Council. Pupils flocked to him as if his studio in Antwerp was the Mecca of art. He had scarcely established himself there when he wrote (1611): “On every side I am overwhelmed with solicitations: without the least exaggeration I may assure you that I have already had to refuse more than a hundred pupils.”

Every kind of decoration and design was subject to his brush. The Flemish tapestry weavers pestered him for cartoons: the famous printer, Moretus, must have him design title-pages, borders and vignettes for the “Imprimerie Plantin”: chapel ceilings, cars for cavalcades and triumphal arches all came alike to him; Marie de’ Medici was not satisfied until he had immortalized her in grandiose canvases on the walls of her new palace.

One of the Flemish artists who played a particularly important part in the introduction of the new Italian style into the Low Countries was Jacques Franquart (born in Brussels in 1577 and died there in 1651), an architect, who studied in Italy. He became the chief architect of the Archduke Albert, and engineer of the King of Spain in the Netherlands. Philip III made him a knight. Among his important works were the Church of the Jesuits in Brussels (the cornerstone of which was laid by Albert and Isabella in 1606) and the Church of the Grand Béguinage in Mechlin (1629–47).

The next name of importance is that of Artus Quillyn, or Quellin, born at St. Trond in 1625. He studied sculpture with Artus Quillyn the elder in Antwerp, studied in Rome and returned to Antwerp, where he died in 1700. 138The churches of Antwerp are full of his bold and masterly works. His masterpiece, the statue of God the Father, was executed in 1680 for the Cathedral of St. Sauveur in Bruges, where it still stands.

With Quillyn ranks Peter Verbrugghen of Antwerp. It is generally believed that he carved the fine pulpit at St. Walburge in Bruges, a work unexcelled among the sculpture of the seventeenth century. A kneeling figure representing Religion supports the pulpit with one hand and holds a cross in the other. Her attitude is noble, gracious and animated, and her expression admirable and exalted. Each corner of the base is ornamented with the figure of an angel in a niche and decorated with four medallions representing the four evangelists whose features are of imposing majesty. The sounding board in the form of a light and graceful shell, although supported by two cherubim with outstretched wings, seems suspended in the air. The stairway is flanked by four figures representing Adoration, Eloquence, Meditation and Study; and the balustrade, which is beautifully pierced in designs of branches and figures, is ornamented with figures representing the four elements: Earth, a rabbit chase; Air, hunting the falcon; Water, fishing with a line; and Fire, sacrifice of a material love. It would be impossible to carve oak more elaborately and boldly. This work was restored in 1845 by two Bruges artists, Van Wedeveldt and P. Buyck.

The Flemish wood-carver had still plenty of work to do in the churches; but in domestic furniture the lathe was making his services more and more unnecessary on bars and uprights; and the increasing craze for marquetry 139and the invasion of lacquer and japanned wares left him comparatively little to do.

Much beautiful carved work of the seventeenth century survives. Vilvorde Church has thirty-six upper and thirty-two lower oak stalls carved originally in 1663 for the priory of Groenendael; this is a magnificent specimen of the carver’s art. There is also lovely woodcarving of the middle of the century in St. Michael’s, Louvain. The Church of St. Walburge, Furnes, is also rich in carved oak. On the pulpit is a figure of St. John writing the Apocalypse; the upper part is supported by two palms, and a rock with an eagle. The choir stalls are particularly fine. The Ostend parish church has a fine pulpit carved in 1674.

The Church of St. Anne in Bruges is rich in carved work of this period. The choir stalls of oak were splendidly carved in the Renaissance style by Jean Schockaert and Fr. Schaepelinck in 1664. The oak organ case was carved in 1685 by Jacques Vanden Eynde, who was also the organist at Ypres. Fine bas-reliefs in the nave were executed by Martin Moenaert in 1673 and the ornate confessionals by Jan de Sangher in 1699. There is also a handsome communion bench made by an unknown carver in 1670, which is decorated with the busts of the four Evangelists and four Doctors of the Church with bas-relief panels of the Virgin, Joseph, St. Anne, St. Joachim, the Pascal Lamb and the Eucharist ornamented with bunches of grapes and garlands of wheat.

Carving was by no means confined to the churches: those who could afford it still beautified the furniture of castle and hall with the work of the chisel. Chests or 140bahuts, cabinets, armoires, tables, chairs and the old “sideboards,” known in England in Jacobean days as “court cupboards,” and in Flanders as credences or “buffet à deux corps,” were as highly ornamented with carving in the late Renaissance style as they were with Gothic ornament during the fifteenth century. During the Louis XIII period, the more important pieces of furniture usually assumed the forms and lines of Classic architecture. A typical bahut of this period (see Plate LVII), owes its interest chiefly to its architectural decorations. The fluted columns, though somewhat squat, which adorn the divisions of the front, produce a pleasing effect; the mouldings are strongly accented and their ornamentations are bold and in fine style. One can easily understand that this chest would not be out of place in any late Renaissance apartment, but would contribute to the decorative effect of the whole. The two side niches representing the two virtues contain statuettes—Prudence and Strength. The central panel tells the story of Judith and Holofernes with a directness and simplicity worthy of a Botticelli.

The two-storied buffet (buffet à deux corps) frequently received similar treatment, totally at variance with the handsome one reproduced in Plate XLIII. A splendid example decorated with the arms of Ypres, Ghent, Bruges and Franc, is preserved in the Ypres Museum. This was the work of Jan van de Velde, who carved it in 1644, and received 162 florins for his trouble.

The bench (banc), often forms part of the woodwork of the wall of a hall in Flanders in the seventeenth century. It was frequently placed between the windows and made 141luxurious with cushions. Movable benches were often used. In these the backs turned on an axis and were most convenient, as the occupant could arrange the seat in any position he pleased. The benches in De Vries’s “Cubiculum” (Plate X), should be compared with the bench against the wall in Plate XXXVIII in studying the development of the banc. The high banc, or settle, in this picture is interesting on account of its simplicity.

The general tendency of furniture was a gradual breaking away from immovables, a development from monumental solidity into grace and lightness. The heavy tables of De Vries are cut away, and return in general form to the original board and trestles. A glance at Fig. 8 will show that the workman had only to connect the struts of the trestles in the centre of the table in order to produce a rough model of the richly carved tables in vogue from the period of Henri II to that of Louis XIV. The box form of support, therefore, in this style of table gives way to what we may regard as two trestles connected in the middle by an upright board. These, as well as the edge of the table top, are embellished by beautiful carving. The trestles now consist of eagles, lions, chimaeras, mermaids, satyrs and other human and animal figures; and the central connexion is pierced, balustraded, columned and treated in a thousand different ways. In the seventeenth century, lightness was carried a step further, and the favourite table is simply supported by four turned legs with heavy bulb feet, the legs have connecting rails close to the floor and usually have one or more heavy globular swellings. In England during the Tudor and Jacobean periods, this heavy form was known 142as the drawing-table. It occurs in numberless interiors by Dutch and Flemish masters. The desire for greater lightness, however, made itself increasingly felt; and early in the seventeenth century we find legs turned in plain spirals, or with beading. Chair frames naturally corresponded with table legs.

Though the masters of Decorative Art were constantly increasing in numbers, it was three-quarters of a century after the appearance of the furniture designs by De Vries before another important work of the same nature was published. This was by another Dutchman. In 1642, Crispin van den Passe published at Amsterdam his “Boutique Menuiserie dans laquelle sont comprins les plus notables fondaments non moins arichesse avecq des nouvelles inventions.”

Of his life little is known, except that he was the son of the great engraver of the same name and was born in Utrecht in 1585. His Boutique Menuiserie contains a series of plates of furniture. It is extremely rare today, but was doubtless in every cabinet-maker’s shop of the period.

The furniture, it will be noticed, is “new.” The book was published two years after the death of Rubens, while the style Rubens was still in its glory. From a study of these plates, together with the engravings of Abraham Bosse, we can obtain a clear vision of an interior, either Flemish or French, during the reign of Louis XIII, for Crispin’s furniture designs were as well known to French as to Flemish workmen. Three of his chairs, two of them folding, are reproduced in Figs. 31, 32, and 33; Fig. 34 also shows a small table by him.

143We have already caught a glimpse of Rubens’s home in Antwerp; and now we cannot do better than look at the interior of the other great master in Amsterdam. When that city passed through a great financial crisis in 1653, Rembrandt suffered in company with his fellow-citizens. He had been living like a lord in a splendid dwelling sumptuously furnished and decorated, and surrounded by a multitude of objects of art which he loved to collect—armour, robes, busts, ceramics, engravings, and famous pictures by Italian and native artists, as well as his own productions. To satisfy his creditors, these all came to the hammer in 1656. The inventory gives us a good idea of his home. In the vestibule, there were four Spanish chairs covered with Russia leather, four Spanish chairs with black seats, and one low form of pinewood.

The Antechamber contained an ebony-framed mirror and an ebony stand, a marble basin, a walnut table with a Tournay cover, and seven Spanish chairs covered with green velvet. The “Room behind the Antechamber” was furnished with a gilded frame, a small oak table, four common chairs, a copper cauldron, and a portmanteau. In the “Hall,” there were six chairs with blue seats, a large mirror, an oak table, with an embroidered tablecloth, a bed with blue hangings, two pillows and two covers, a matted chair, a set of fire-irons, and a “sacerdan” wood press, and a “sacerdan” small kas with doors. The “Art Cabinet” contained three East India cups, one East India powder box, one East India “jatte” with a little Chinaman, one East India workbox, two porcelain “casoars,” two porcelain 144figurines, one Japanese casque, plaster casts, copper and pewter, globes, and seventy natural history specimens. On the floor at the back were a great quantity of shells, marine plants and other curiosities, statues, arms, armour, etc. Here also were many portfolios filled with choice engravings, etchings and drawings, besides one old chest, four chairs with black leather seats, and one pine table. In the “Small Studio,” there are musical instruments and armour (119 pieces), and a great number of casts of hands, arms and heads from nature, and many various kinds of woven materials. The “Large Studio” has in it twenty pieces—halberds, swords, and Indian fans, costumes of an Indian man and woman, cuirasses and trumpets. The “Studio Entry” is decorated with the skins of a lion and lioness, and other furs.

A bedstead stands in the “Little Room.”

The “Small Kitchen” is furnished with a little table, a larder, some old chairs, two cushioned chairs, some pots and pans, and a tin waterpot. Nine white plates and two earthen plates decorate the “Corridor.” Rembrandt owned a good deal of linen; and most of the rooms contained pictures.

No one looking at Rembrandt’s own pictures can fail to appreciate his fondness for dressing himself and his models in feathers, armour and fantastic costumes, which, as we have seen, he kept as properties in his Studio.

Rembrandt resided in the Jewish quarter in Amsterdam from 1640 to 1656. His house, Jodenbrêe Straat, No. 4, next door but one to the bridge, is marked by a simple memorial tablet.

Plate XXV.Panelled Bedstead.


145We can form a very clear idea of the general appearance of a street of the Renaissance period from many old houses that still stand in Belgium and Holland. The interiors in some cases we can also reconstruct by the aid of inventories. Mechlin is particularly rich in buildings of the sixteenth century. The Mont de Piété, once the home of Canon Busleyden, is a Gothic building of 1507, restored in 1864; on the Quay au Sel, there are several old timber-houses, the Salm Inn, with a Renaissance façade of 1530–34, and a house in the Franco-Flemish style, very rich in detail. There is also an interesting timber-house in the Quay aux Avoines.

Bruges and Ypres contain several houses of the seventeenth century; Ghent has two private houses on the Quai de la Grue (one of which is named the Vliegenden Hert); and Antwerp, several Guildhouses. Holland is richer in houses and buildings of this century. In Amsterdam, the royal palace—the Dam—was built in 1648 as a Town Hall by Jacob van Kampen; the house of Admiral de Ruyter may be seen on the Prins-Hendrik-Kade, and the house of Baron Six in the Heerengracht, and on the Heerengracht and Keizersgracht are many houses of the seventeenth century.

There are also a number of seventeenth century houses of great interest to the student of architecture in Alkmaar. The Stadhuis, in Enkhuisen, dates from 1688; Sneek has a water-tower of 1615, which was restored in 1878; Zwolle has a guard-house of 1614; and the police-office of Deventer is a Renaissance structure of 1632. Several brick buildings of the seventeenth century still stand in the Zaadmarkt and Groenmarkt of Zutphen; 146there are several houses in Bommel of this period, including the famous house of Maarten van Rossum, now a district court; and the weigh-house and meat market of Gouda date from 1668 and 1691.

The doors and interior woodwork of these houses in many cases are precious records of the skill of the Dutch and Flemish wood-carvers of the period.

One of the most famous houses in Mechlin in the second half of the seventeenth century was a commandery called the Pitsembourg; and it was selected in 1668 as the most suitable residence for the High Constable of Castile and Leon.

An inventory of the furnishings of this establishment was taken in 1656, which enables us to go through the house.

The first room that we enter is called de Trappenye, and was used as an office. Here we find a picture representing the Birth of Christ and two pieces of sculpture—The Offering and The Three Kings, standing on two pedestals that bear the arms of Cratz (Cratz was commander of the House of Mechlin from 1564 to 1604). In this room are two large cases—one with twenty and the other with ten drawers, one lettered, and the other numbered—to preserve papers, documents and charts. It is warmed by a half-stove, halve stove, according to the inventory. For diversion, there is a backgammon board with white pieces of boxwood, and black of lignum-vitæ.

Plate XXVI.The Sick Woman, by Jan Steen.


Figs. 31 and 33: Folding Chairs, by Crispin van de Passe; Fig. 32: Chair, by Crispin van de Passe; Fig. 34; Table, by Crispin van de Passe.

Passing from this into the camer beneffens de trappenye, we find a bedroom, de camer boven de trappenye, the most conspicuous object of which is a bed. So sumptuous is this, in fact, that no other furniture is needed to give 147this room distinction. To begin with, the framework is ornately carved, and it is hung with rich silken curtains and sumptuously upholstered. Undoubtedly this bed was of the same type as the beautiful Renaissance specimen reproduced in Plate XXV, from the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam. A reference to Plate X will show this is later in style than the “new” one designed by De Vries. The “linen-fold” panel has entirely disappeared, and the carved accessories are all pure late Renaissance. At the time this inventory was taken, however, these magnificent wardrobe-shaped beds with elaborate carving were already out of date and supplanted in favour by the lighter form with simple posts at the corners, the whole being entirely closed with curtains. This bed appears in Plate XXVI and Plate XXVII with both square and dome-shaped tops, and in many other pictures by the Dutch masters of the seventeenth century.

The bed in which upholstery had superseded carving had been growing in favour, not only in the homes of the middle classes, but also in those of the rich. It even occurs in the inner room of the wealthy house represented in Plate XXIV.

This bed, known as the lit en housse, is the typical bed of the seventeenth century, and is the one that appears in Abraham Bosse’s engravings, whenever a bed is introduced—in the homes of the rich, in hospitals, and in the rooms of tradesmen and school teachers. In this style of bed, the framework is of comparatively little importance. The ciel, or canopy, is supported on four posts which are carved or painted in harmony with the curtains, or covered with the same materials. 148Beneath the valance, a rod runs under the canopy for the support of the curtains, which are drawn up or down by means of cords and pulleys. When closed, the lit en housse looks like a square box. The elegance of the bed depended upon its upholstery. The richest beds were draped with tapestry, silk, damask brocade and velvet, beautifully trimmed with gold and silver braid or lace, narrow silk fringe, or fringe of gold or silver threads, or decorative cords and tassels. Serge, cloth, East Indian goods, linen and cotton materials were also employed. The curtains were more or less richly lined and the four corners of the canopy above the posts were decorated with a carved or turned wooden knob called a pomme (which was sometimes gilded or painted), a bunch of feathers, or a “bouquet” made of ravelled silk ornaments or inverted tassels.

Returning now to our examination of the Pitsembourg, we note that the next room is that of the master brewer, in which there is a very shabby bed, an old picture representing the Elevation during Holy Mass, a wall map of Germany and a standard with the arms of Lant-Commander, Werner Spies von Bullesheim, who was at the head of the house of Mechlin from 1639 to 1641.

Plate XXVII.Woman, with a Parrot, by Jan Steen.


Passing by the unimportant rooms of the servants, we enter the old room of the commander, where we note an alcove hung with two little green curtains with an embroidered border, and in the alcove a bed with bolster, pillow and two counterpanes, one white, and the other green, a table covered with a cloth, some little stools (escarbeaux), two chairs covered with green cloth, 149andirons, shovel and tongs of copper, and a number of pictures, among which are two little representations of castles, the Battle of Calloo, a portrait of Lant-Commander Bongaert in full-dress uniform, one of Lant-Commander van Ruyssenbergh, one of Commander Cratz, and one of Commander Werner Spies von Bullesheim kneeling with a chaplain at the feet of the Virgin. Two little rooms and a bathroom belonging to the chaplain follow, and then we enter a room called In den inganck van’t voorhuys. In the centre stands an old table covered with a “carpet of gilt leather.” There are some water-colours on the wall, including two vases filled with flowers, and two of decorative motives with the inscriptions “Virtus parit honorem” and “Qui confidit in divitiis corruet.” There is also a large painting of the arms of the Archduke Maximilian, Grand Master of the Order (son of the Emperor Maximilian II).

From the Inganck van’t voorhuys, we step into a more luxurious hall called het cleyn salet naast het voorhuys, hung with ten large pieces of leather with gold patterns on a silver background. The furniture consists of a table with oak leaves, covered with a Turkish carpet, chairs with stuffed backs of red ribbed silk, a screen made of four painted canvases, and eleven pictures, one the Battle of Prague and the others landscapes, ornamental copper andirons, and a hearth-box.

The next salon, de sale naar de Trappenye, is hung with portraits, and some large pictures, one of which represents Samson proving his strength.

In the dining-room, in de nieuwe gemaeckte stove, there are also many pictures, including portraits, a 150“winter scene” and a “Flemish Kermesse.” The principal piece of furniture is a superb sideboard of carved oak, on which the following pieces of silver are displayed: one aiguière and basin with the arms of Spies; four candelabra with chiselled sconces, an extinguisher with tray, and an amphora, all with the arms of Lutzenrode; two large jugs, a deep dish, a mustard-pot and six salt-cellars, also with the arms of Lutzenrode; a chafing-dish with the Ruyssenbergh arms, twenty-two spoons, twenty-six forks, twenty-two knives, and ten porcelain wine-jugs with silver tops.

Next to this hall is the bishop’s room, which is luxuriously furnished. The walls are hung with eight large “tapestries of leather” with gold patterns on a silver background. The bed is upholstered with curtains of mauve silk trimmed with a silk braid of yellow and violet. It is furnished with two mattresses, a bolster, two pillows, and two counterpanes—one white, the other green—and over the whole is thrown a large counterpane of embroidered silk trimmed with a fringe of silk and gold thread. The window-curtains, the six chairs, and armchair, are covered with the same silk as the counterpane. There is a large mirror in an ebony frame and portraits of Maximilian, Syberg, and Bongaert.

The bishop’s room is next to the salon, groot salet beneden d’aarde, which is hung with thirteen pieces of “leather tapestry,” showing gold patterns on a red background. On the mantelpiece there is a crucifix carved of boxwood, the foot of which is incrusted with mother-of-pearl, and there is a magnificent mirror of gold and black wood, the fronton of which is ornamented with a 151silk cord with large tassels, the whole supported by three gilded griffins. This room also contains sixteen pictures, nine of which are still-life, and are signed Jacques van Esch of Antwerp (1606–1666).

The commander’s bedroom is very modest, as becomes one who has assumed the vows of poverty: a little walnut bed with very ordinary curtains, with a mattress, two bolsters, three pillows (one covered with white leather, which he takes on his travels), and a counterpane of quilted silk. He allowed himself the luxury of a fire, because there are andirons and a hearth-box. A portrait of the Virgin and The Temptation of St. Anthony are his only pictures, and the one ornament is a sculptured Descent from the Cross. A little desk and a close chair covered in black leather and inlaid with copper, complete the furniture of this room, which makes an interesting contrast with the bishop’s.

The enormous number of cooking utensils in the kitchen show that the most lavish hospitality was offered in this house. Every kind of copper pot and pan, from the largest saucepan and boiler (de schonck of hespenketel) to the tiniest pans for cakes and pastry (een clein coper panneke waarin men dry eieren kan doppen, and koek and taart pannen), are present in great numbers; and, moreover, there are portable ovens to bake tarts, ladles, skimmers, sieves, spice-boxes, spits, skewers, ten grills, large and small, some of them for roasting oysters—in short every article that a cook would need to prepare a feast for a gourmet.

The buffets, armoires and shelves of the kitchen are filled with valuable metal ware, including eight aiguières 152and eight dishes, weighing sixty-five pounds. These are marked with the arms of Spies and Syberg. Then there are seventeen candlesticks, some of which have round and others square bases; there are ninety-three large and small dishes with the arms of Lutzenrode, Spies and Syberg, and a hundred and twenty-eight plates with the arms of the various commanders. The shelves also contain a great number of wine jars and measures and pots for holding grape-juice and a great number of earthenware dishes, crocks, etc.

There is a special pantry, and near this a pastry-room; and a brewery, a harness-room, tool houses, a house for the gardener, and in the park, which is a kind of botanical garden, there is a pavilion on a knoll, where any one desiring to fish could find rods and lines.

The kitchen is the most important room in the majority of the middle-class houses; in fact, in many a Flemish and Dutch interior it appears as the general living-room. Plate XXVII and Plate XXXVI afford Dutch examples.

A fine example of a Flemish kitchen of the seventeenth century is by Teniers the younger, called The Good Kitchen in the Hague Gallery. This was painted in 1644.

Another fine kitchen of the period occurs in a Family Group by Cocx (Coques), in the Cassel Gallery. In the foreground a man is seated at a table looking at his son’s drawings. Not far away his wife is teaching her daughter to make lace, and through a large door the kitchen is visible, where fish, oysters, pastries and birds show preparations for a feast.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam has a series of 153rooms fitted up in the old style with original furniture. The kitchen represented in Plate XXXII is equipped with all the pots and pans dear to the heart of the Dutch housewife. The hearth, ovens and shelves are furnished with all the implements and utensils necessary for good housekeeping: cauldrons, spits, churns, plate-warmers, kettles, bellows, waffle-irons, etc., are all there. A Frisian clock hangs on the tiled wall, and the cupboards contain everything necessary for cooking and cleaning.

The library of the Pitsembourg was well stored with religious works. The chapel, a beautiful edifice built in 1228 and dedicated to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, contained some fine carvings, two crucifixes, one of silver and one of copper, organs, carved statues, silver chandeliers;’and exceptionally rich vestments, altar-cloths and Flemish lace.

It will be noticed that all the principal rooms in this establishment were hung with leather, or “leather tapestry” in accordance with the taste of the age.

The leather hangings of the seventeenth century are even more brilliant than those of the past; and on the bright background of scarlet, blue, sea-green, gold or silver, a wealth of ornamentation appears—animals, birds, flowers, fruits, mascarons and other favourite devices of the time. Leather hangings are always present in wealthy homes of Holland. An excellent example is shown in the picture of The Young Scholar and his Sister by Coques (Cocx), now in the Cassel Gallery. The room, which is richly furnished, is hung with blue and gold leather. This picture was painted in the seventeenth century.

154The Low Countries by this time had become renowned for their fine leather and exported a vast amount of it. Notwithstanding the rivalry of the French and Italian workshops, there was a special shop in the Rue St. Denis in Paris where Flemish and Dutch leathers could be obtained. Some of the French inventories of this century mention especially “tapestries of leather” from the Netherlands; for example, Fouquet has at his Château of Vaux, in 1661, “a rich hanging of tapestry of cuir doré from Flanders, consisting of eight pieces”; and in 1698, a rich Parisian owns “a hanging of tapestry of cuir doré de Hollande,” with a red background.

The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam contains a great number of gilt leather hangings of the seventeenth century; at the Hôtel de Ville of Furnes, there are some hangings of Spanish leather and the Antiquarian Museum of Utrecht also contains some embossed gilt leather hangings.

In the seventeenth century, the great centres for the production of tapestry shifted to Paris and London. This is the period when the famous looms of the Gobelins and Mortlake were established. The directors and workers in these famous establishments were Flemings. It was largely owing to the influence of Le Brun that Paris triumphed over Brussels with her Gobelins manufactory established in 1662. This was really the outgrowth of the high-warp looms established by Henry IV in 1597, under an excellent tapestry-worker named Laurent. These workshops were first situated in the house of the Jesuits in the Faubourg St. Antoine, and were transferred to the Louvre in 1603. The King sent to Flanders for tapestry-workers over whom he placed the Sieur de Fourcy. In 1607 he sent for more workers, among whom were Marc Comans (or Coomans) and François de la Planche, who were given charge of the workshops at Tournelles. These were removed to the Faubourg St. Marceau. The tapestries had to be made façon de Flandres.

Plate XXVIII.Flemish Chair.


155The King’s enterprises were not universally approved. “They cost large sums to his Majesty,” says a contemporary, and loss and ruin to his subjects. Witness the Brussels tapestries at St. Marcel, the Flemish linens at Mantes and the cloths of silk and gold of Milan.

After the King’s death, Comans and De la Planche continued to work in Paris, and in 1630 were engaged at the manufactory that afterwards became the Gobelins.

Flemish workmen were also employed at Maincy near Vaux in 1658. When, owing to the wars, the Gobelins was closed in 1694, some of the workmen entered the army, twenty-three returned to Flanders and others went to Beauvais. This great factory was no less indebted than was the Gobelins to the Flemings. It was established in 1664 by a “marchand tapissier,” named Louis Hynart, a native of Beauvais, who owned a large number of workshops in Flanders as well as in Paris. As Beauvais was at that time an important centre for woollen stuffs, Hynart proposed to the municipality that he should establish workshops of high-warp tapestry “in the manner of those of Flanders.” Hynart obtained a subsidy and brought a number of Flemish workmen to Beauvais. He was negligent, however, and in 1684 the directorship of the Beauvais manufactory was given to 156Philippe Béhagle (originally Behagel) of a famed family of tapestry-weavers of Oudenarde. Under Béhagle the “Royal Manufactory of Tapestry,” flourished until his death in 1704. Another workman who contributed greatly to the success of Beauvais was Georges Blommaert, who was also called to Beauvais in 1684 from Lille, where he had established a workshop in 1677.

When Georges Blommaert left Lille to go to Beauvais, he was succeeded by François and André Pannemaker, descendants of the famous Pannemaker family of tapestry-makers. In 1688, they had a rival in Jean de Melter, of Brussels, who was particularly fond of reproducing compositions after Rubens. The Pannemakers devoted their skill chiefly to “Verdures.”

The looms at Nancy, established in the seventeenth century, and closed in 1625, were also worked by men from the Low Countries, among them one Melchior van der Hameidan. The Brussels looms were still busy in this century, but the corporation of tapestry-workers was recruited from a few families, such as the De Vos, De Castros, Raës, Van der Borchts, Van der Heckes, and Leyniers. They repeated the cartoons of the last century; but in the middle of the seventeenth Teniers produced many rustic scenes that, known as Tenières, became very popular. Flemish tapestry-weavers are found in Rome; in Denmark (twenty-six were there about 1604); in Russia (Martin Steuerbout of Antwerp had a manufactory in Moscow in 1607); and in England.

Plate XXIX.Flemish Chair.


The Mortlake manufactory, established by James I near London in 1619, was practically a Flemish manufactory. 157In a short while its only rival was the Gobelins. The King sent specially to Flanders for skilled workmen and no less than fifty arrived in one month, among whom were Josse Ampe of Bruges, Simon Heyns, Jacques Hendricx, Josse Inghels, and Pierre Foquentin of Oudenarde. Rubens and Van Dyck were commissioned to supply cartoons; but many of the old favourite historical and religious sets of the past century were reproduced. Paris and Hampton Court Palace contain a number of these.

Mortlake had closed when William III ordered his victories to be commemorated in woven pictures. The cartoons for The Battle of Bresgate, The Descent on Tor bay and The Battle of the Boyne, were drawn by Jean Lottin, the painter, and made by Clerck, Vander Borcht, Cobus and De Vos of Brussels.

Flemish tapestry-weavers settled in Sandwich, Canterbury, Maidstone, Norwich and Colchester in 1567–8, after the persecutions of the Duke of Alva; but notwithstanding the good work produced in England, Admiral Howard ordered the famous set of six pieces to commemorate the destruction of the Spanish Armada from the painter H. Cornelis de Vroom of Haarlem and Franz Spierinx of Delft. These fine pieces hung in the House of Lords, London, until destroyed by the fire of 1824.

Religious, mythological and allegorical subjects continue in favour during the seventeenth century; and subjects inspired by contemporary history are also popular. The cartoons by Rubens, however, take precedence of everything; and his History of Achilles, 158History of Constantine, Scenes from the Old Testament, Triumph of the Church, etc., are reproduced in every workshop in Europe. His most famous work, The History of Marie de’ Medici, was finally completed at the Gobelins manufactory during the reign of Louis Philippe.

In furniture, during the seventeenth century, it may be said that carved figures gradually gave way to turned supports, and uprights; and the surfaces depended for decoration on panelling of geometrical designs and applied ornaments of real or imitation ebony. Another favourite way of decorating the broad surfaces was to inlay them in various designs with wood of different colours. The latter taste rapidly advanced during this century with the constantly increasing importation of the beautifully coloured woods of the East and West Indies. As the Flemish artists, moreover, went so often to Italy for inspiration, Flemish marquetry, doubtless, took its first stimulus from Italian taste. To quote a learned critic[4]: “The Italians of the Decadence had a passion for ebony and coloured woods, and theatrical and complicated decorations. Furniture completely changed its physiognomy; the decorative panels with all their ornaments, are renounced for plain surfaces on which marquetry can be displayed to advantage. Forsaken by fashion, walnut drops out of use; profiles are multiplied; the fine cuirs that were cut in solid bosses sprawl about in an enervated, weakened fashion; the straight, firm and springing Classic column now becomes twisted and distorted; and the stale and banal decoration has neither sinews nor youth. The sculptor yields his place to the marquetry-worker and the carpenter (menuisier) becomes a cabinet-maker (ébéniste).”[5]

4.  Bonaffé.

5.  A literal translation is more to the point: the carpenter becomes a worker in exotic woods, ebony, etc.

Plate XXX.Chairs.


159Until the sixteenth century, marquetry seems to have chiefly consisted of ivory and ebony; but at this period exotic woods began to be employed. Beautiful marquetry was a mark of luxury; for example, in the famous pamphlet L’Isle des Hermaphrodites, directed against Henri III and his Court, the author says: “As for the furniture of wood, we should like to have it all of gold, silver, and marquetry, and the pieces, especially the canopies of the beds, if possible, of cedar, rose, and other odoriferous woods unless you would rather have them of ebony and ivory.”

In this century Italy carried to perfection, the inlay of rare and polished marbles, lapis-lazuli, agates, pebbles, etc., called pietra-dura, and this style was imitated in other countries.

During the Decadence, the old marquetry of wood gave place to incrustations of mother-of-pearl, shell, precious stones and coloured marbles, and the furniture was made even more sumptuous by the additions of chiselled mounts, key-plates, handles, feet, etc., of silver or gilt bronze. Painted glass was also a popular kind of inlay. A good example of this work is in the hospice of Liège—a walnut cabinet with plaques of painted glass in many colours in imitation of what the Italians call mille fiori.

160A new kind of marquetry, however, made its appearance in the seventeenth century and gained in popularity. This consisted of large designs of flowers—particularly the tulip—birds and foliage represented in very gaily-coloured woods of many varieties and dyes, and bits of ivory or mother-of-pearl are added to the eyes of birds, or petals of flowers, to give a touch of brilliancy. Cabinets, bedsteads, writing-desks, china-cupboards, tall clocks, the frames of chairs—in short every piece of furniture was subject to this style of decoration. This kind of marquetry was popular in England during the reign of William and Mary, when everything Dutch was the rage. It is well known that the Dutch were even fonder of marquetry than the Flemings. A Dutch cabinet, which depends for its decoration entirely on the contrasted colours and shapes of its inlaid woods, standing on a low frame with spiral legs and knob feet connected by a plain stretcher (see Plate XXXI), is in the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam. This is a good specimen of geometrical inlay.

Motives of marquetry of a formal floral nature are reproduced in Fig. 37.

Plate XXXI.Marquetry Cabinet.


During the Spanish dominion in the sixteenth century, the chair in which great personages sit for their portraits has a high straight back with the side posts usually ending in carved lions’ heads, straight or scrolled arms and carved or plain straight legs connected by stretchers. The feet are sometimes carved with the heads or feet of animals. The back and seat are upholstered with velvet or stamped leather fixed to the frame with large brass-headed nails. This “Spanish 161chair” was common in Spain, Italy, France and England, as well as in the Netherlands. We find it in the pictures of the great portrait painters of the Renaissance—Raphael, Titian and Velasquez—as well as the great Dutch and Flemish masters. Fig. 36 shows a fine solid and simple example of this style of chair of Flemish workmanship. It is well-proportioned; both front and back legs and the arms are turned, and the stretchers are grooved and shaped. When in use, of course, the seat would be comfortably cushioned. The back, seat and arms are covered with leather.

The most common chair of the seventeenth century, however, is one without arms. It is rather low and is a simplified form of the above “Spanish chair.” A fine early example of this model is represented in Plate XXVIII, now in the Cluny Museum, Paris. It will be noticed that the heads on the back posts are still carved, and that the legs are shaped and turned, while the rails are grooved. The Cluny Museum has a considerable number of Flemish chairs of this style and period. One of them, stamped with the monogram of Christ and the date 1672, probably belonged to an ecclesiastic. The ordinary form of this chair appears on either side of the chimney-piece in Plate XXIV.

The low-backed chair without arms is very common in interior scenes by Dutch and Flemish masters. Sometimes we see guests seated on them at the table; and sometimes it will serve as a seat for a lady as she takes a music-lesson. (See Plate XXXIX.) It is found in various dimensions and proportions. Sometimes it has one set of rungs and sometimes two; sometimes the 162legs are plain, and sometimes elegantly turned. Sometimes the back posts have lions’ heads and frequently not. (See Plates XXXV and XXXIX, and Fig 35.)

The design by Crispin de Passe, Fig. 32, shows the style for an armchair of the middle of the century. Here the centre of the top back bar is raised with ornamental carving and the lions’ heads are suppressed. A variety of the same style of chair fashionable during the period of Louis XIII is represented by the handsome piece of Flemish workmanship in Plate XXIX, also in the Cluny Museum. The arms and bars and front legs are turned in elegant spirals effectively relieved. The back posts do not rise above the top rail, and have no lions’ heads, but finely carved heads terminate the arms. The back and seat are covered with gilt leather stamped with a beautiful floral design and fastened to the frame with the usual large-headed nails. Sometimes instead of lions’ heads, we find carved heads of other animals and of women. Besides leather and velvet, this style of chair was frequently covered with embroidered material and tapestry.

A Dutch chair of this general form, though with sloping and scrolled arms, is in the Rijks Museum. (See Plate XXXIII.) The legs are turned in spirals; and the back and seat are upholstered with a rich material figured with large flower forms—tulips, roses, irises, etc.

Plate XXXII.Kitchen.


Still another model of this style of armchair with spiral rungs and supports, scrolled arms, carved top and leather back and seat, appears on Plate XXXIV. This is also a Dutch chair in the Rijks Museum. It is interesting to compare it with another armchair on the same 163plate. This, of carved oak, turned back posts, front legs of carved heavy scrolls, diagonal connecting rails also formed of heavy scrolls, and scrolled front bar, is an interesting example of an armchair of the Dutch work of the Louis XIV period. The back has a central panel with a scrolled frame, elegantly carved. It is filled with woven cane instead of leather, or other upholstery. The seat is cane also. A chair without arms, which looks as if it might have belonged to the same set, though it is now preserved in the Cluny Museum, Paris, is shown in Plate XLV. Another armchair of the same period and general style (see Plate XXXIII) has a carved panel filled with cane, cane seat, scrolled arms, turned rails and legs, and carved front bar. Chairs of this fashion were extremely popular in the Low Countries and in England during the second half of the seventeenth century. In all probability, they originated in the Netherlands, and became familiar and favourites with the exiled Cavaliers between 1640 and 1660; and at the Restoration the style was imported into England. However this may be, this well-known carved oak chair, with cane back and seat, is still popularly known as the “Charles II Chair.” A light Dutch model of this type, with elegantly carved front bar, turned rails and posts and scrolled front legs, is shown in Plate XXXIV. It has no arms and the back panel is divided into two narrow panels of cane, producing a very light and elegant effect. The scrolls of the feet are much lighter and more graceful than those of the armchair at its side.

An armchair of the same style and period, also 164from the Rijks Museum, is in the centre on Plate XXXV.

The central panel of the back is gracefully treated with open carved and turned work. The panel proper is framed with heavy scrolls, and the central bar is pierced and carved with graceful bellflowers running downwards and upwards. This chute of the bell-flower now becomes a very favourite ornamentation in decorative art, and Bérain, Marot and other artists of the period make free use of it. The curved stretchers with the vase ornament in the centre is very characteristic of Dutch, English, and French furniture of the second half of the seventeenth century. It occurs in ordinary tables, dressing-tables, stands for cabinets, and, in fact, every piece of furniture that stands on four legs. The arms and legs consist of the usual scroll, and the feet of carved bulbs.

A chair with the characteristic scrolled stretcher just alluded to occurs on Plate XXXIII. It is richly carved, and has turned and carved straight legs, with bulbed feet. The back is a richly carved frame, filled with cane. The top is crowned with delicate ribbon and foliage carving, and the shape of the back is a favourite one for the mirrors of the period. The proportions of the seat, which is stuffed and covered with velvet fastened with small brass nails is quite modern. This chair, however, belongs to the end of the seventeenth century. The affinities between the chairs we have been describing and the designs by Marot, which were so popular in Holland, may be studied in the next chapter.

Plate XXXIII.Chairs.


The masters of this school of ornamentation were 165numerous. Hitherto Flanders has overshadowed the Northern Provinces of the Netherlands in art products; but beginning with De Vries, Holland assumes equal importance. Peter Soutman (Haarlem 1580–1650), was a pupil of Rubens; William Buytenweg worked at Rotterdam; Adrian Muntink was famous in Groningen (circ. 1610); other goldsmiths and engravers, named Laurens, Janss Micker, Geraert van Ryssen, Meinert Gelis, Jacobus van der Tverff, Gerritz Hessel (Amsterdam), Abraham Hecker (Amsterdam), Hendrik de Keyser (Amsterdam), Jacobus Collan (Rotterdam), and Arnold Houbraken (Dordrecht), all flourished during the first half of the seventeenth century. Their motives of garlands, fruits, flowers, human and animal figures, birds, insects, etc., were used in the decoration of sumptuous, carved furniture, and for marquetry and mosaics, as well as for the gold and silver ware of which the nobles and rich merchants were so fond.

Other masters of ornament of the Netherlands of this period, whose works have survived, are Martin van Buten (circ. 1607), Franz Aspruck (circ. 1601), Jacques de Gheyn (circ. 1610), J. B. Barbé (b. 1585), Blondus (1590–1656), Raphael Custode, Michel van Lochon, Henderick Lodeweycke (circ. 1626), André Pauli (circ. 1628).

Following the above, when the style Rubens was giving way to the Decadence, we find Michel Natalis (1609–80), Arthus Quellin (b. 1609), Jacob van Campen (circ. 1660), Peter van den Avont (b. 1619), James Collan (circ. 1650), Arnold Houbraken (d. 1660), L. Hendericks (circ. 1660), Romanus de Hooghe (1638–1718), 166Gaspard Bouttats, (1640–1703), J. J. Falkema (circ. 1680), Isaac Moucheron (1660–1744), Antony de Winter (circ. 1690), Peter Paul Bouche (circ. 1693), J. Thuys (circ. 1690), J. and F. Harrewyn (circ. 1694), Heinrich van Bein (1689–98), and G. Vischer, Erasmus Kamyn, P. Schentz and M. Heylbrouck, who all worked at the close of the century.

The most extraordinary style of ornamentation employed by the masters of Decorative Art during the seventeenth century is that known as the genre auriculaire. In this, every part of the human ear is used as a decorative motive. The outer rim and lobe had been used long before it was carried to excess. A very early example is shown in the bed dated 1580 on Plate XI where auricular curves are plainly recognizable in the carving.

In the “Buire” (Plate XLVI) by Mosyn, however, this style is seen in its most exaggerated form. This design is by M. Mosyn, an engraver, born at Amsterdam about 1630. His chandeliers are equally extravagant. Peter Nolpe, born at the Hague (1601–70), was another designer of this school, as was also John Lutma of Amsterdam (1609–89). The latter represents the very decadence of art, with his hideous cartouches, compartments, frames and aiguières, composed of distorted and tortured ears. Another master of Amsterdam who published many plates in the same extraordinary taste was Gerbrandt van der Eeckhout. He also worked in the middle of this century. This style attained its greatest vogue in Germany. There Friederich Unteutsch, a master carpenter of Frankfort, published 167(1650) 110 plates of all kinds of furniture, on which the ear is prominent as an ornament. Daniel Rabel (d. 1637), also used the genre auriculaire in France, but there its life was short and feeble.



Famous Dutch Architects—The Royal Palace on the Dam, Het Loo, the Mauritshuis and Huis ten Bosch—Interior Carvings—Specimens of Rooms and Ceilings in the Rijks Museum—Love of the Dutch for their Houses—Miniature Dutch Houses and Models of Old Amsterdam Houses in the Rijks Museum—Architecture of the Seventeenth Century—A Typical Dutch Home—The Luifel, Voorhuis and Comptoir—Interior Decorations and Furniture—Dutch Mania for Cleaning—Descriptions by Travellers of Dutch Houses and Cleaning—Cleaning Utensils—House and Furniture of Andreas Hulstman Janz, in Dordrecht—Inventory of Gertrude van Mierevelt, wife of the painter, in Delft—“Show-rooms” and their Furnishings—Cooking Utensils—Bedroom in the House of Mrs. Lidia van der Dussen in Dordrecht—The Cradle and “Fire-Basket”—The Baby’s Silver—The “Bride’s Basket”—The “Bride’s Crown” and “Throne”—Decorations for a Wedding—Description by Sir John Lower of the Farewell Entertainment to Charles II at The Hague.

The most important architects of this period were Hendrik de Keyser (1565–1621), Jacob van Kampen (1598–1657), and Philip Vinckboons (1608–75).

The Royal Palace on the Dam, Amsterdam, was built by Jacob van Kampen for a Town Hall; it was begun in 1648 and finished in 1655. It is interesting to note that the structure rests on a foundation of 13,659 piles. The gables are ornamented with allegorical reliefs by Artus Quellin the Elder (see page 137), representing the 170glories of Amsterdam. Artus Quellin and his assistants also adorned the interior with carvings and sculptures in marble. There are also in the various rooms elaborately carved chimney-pieces, some of them with painted overmantels by Jan Lievens, Ferd. Bol, and N. de Helt-Stocade (1656). The ceilings were painted by J. G. Bronchorst, Cornelis Holsteyn and others. This was not used as a palace until the time of Louis Napoleon in 1808.

Het Loo, near Apeldoorn, the favourite residence of William I, William III and the reigning Queen Wilhelmina, received additions during this period; and the Royal Palace at The Hague was also built in the time of William III.

The Mauritshuis, on the Vyver (now the home of the famous Hague picture gallery), was erected in 1633–44, for Count John Maurice of Nassau, the Dutch West India Company’s Governor of Brazil, who died in 1679. The architects were Jacob van Kampen and Pieter Post. This house was rebuilt in 1704–18, after a fire.

These two architects were also responsible for the Huis ten Bosch (House in the Wood), the royal villa near The Hague, built about 1645 for the Princess Amalia of Solms, widow of Prince Frederick Henry of Orange (1625–47). The wings were added by William IV in 1748, and many of the decorations are of the eighteenth century. The famous apartments are: the Chinese Room, the Japanese Room, and the Orange Saloon, in which the Peace Conference met in 1899.

Plate XXXIV.Chairs.


The Trêves Saloon in the Binnenhof in The Hague was built by William III in 1697 as a reception-room. It 171is embellished with a handsome ceiling and portraits of seven stadtholders. The two chimney-pieces in the hall of the first chamber represent War by Jan Lievens and Peace by Adr. Hanneman.

An example of Philip Vinckboons’s work is the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam, built in 1662 in the classic style. This is now occupied by the Royal Academy of Science.

Exceptionally noteworthy specimens of interior carving of this period are: Renaissance chimney-piece and a Gothic chimney-piece in the Louis XIV style in the Antiquarian Museum, Utrecht; a chimney-piece dating from the end of the seventeenth century, with a group of the stamp-masters of the cloth-hall, by Karel de Moor, in the Municipal Museum, Leyden; carved panelling in the council chamber, Woerden (1610); carvings in the church at Venlo; panelling in the palace of the Princess Marie on the Korte Voorhout, The Hague; a pulpit of 1685 in Broek in the Waterland; and a monument in the church of St. Ursula, Delft, to William of Orange, begun in 1616 by Hendrik de Keyser, and finished by his son Peter.

The Rijks Museum possesses many examples of panelling, chimney-pieces, and separate pieces of furniture; and several entire rooms have been correctly arranged. Among these is a room with wall-panellings and chimney-piece from Dordrecht (1626). The ceiling, supposed to be by Th. van der Schuer (about 1678), represents Morning and Evening, and is from the bedroom of Queen Mary of England, wife of William III, in the Binnenhof, The Hague. The gilt leather hangings and other furniture in this room are of the same date.

172Another room contains a beautifully painted cylindrical ceiling of wood from the apartment of Mary Stuart, wife of William II, Prince of Orange, also in the Binnenhof. The panelling, chimney-piece, gilt leather hangings and furniture are also of the seventeenth century.

A notable room is that taken from the house of Constantia Huygens in The Hague, built by Jacob van Kampen. Blue silk is curiously used to embellish the panelling. The ceiling, painted by Gérard de Lairesse (1640–1711) represents Apollo and Aurora. This room is in the Louis XIV style. A later fashion is, however, shown in the splendid “Chinese Boudoir” of the latter part of the seventeenth century from the Stadtholder’s palace at Leeuwarden.

Another room deserving attention is from a small hunting-lodge called the Hoogerhuis, near Amersfoort, built about 1630 by Jacob van Kampen and inhabited by him. The room is lighted by eight small windows, over which paintings were hung. There is an interesting bedstead here, ornamented with painted garlands, and with three compartments, beneath the centred one of which is the Spanish motto, “’El todo es nada” (Everything is nought).

The Dutch of the seventeenth century passed practically all their lives at home. With the exception of merchants, students and men of affairs, people rarely visited their friends and relatives in neighbouring towns. As Pieter van Godewijck wrote:—

Het reysen is een taeck nyet yder opgelegt,
En ’t is nyet al te veel en sonder blaêm gezegt,
Het huys is als een graf, waerin wy altyt wonen,
In ’t aerdsche tranendal.
(Travelling is a task not given to everybody,
And it’s not said so much and without blame
That the home is like a grave, wherein we always dwell,
In the earthly vale of tears.)

Plate XXXV.Chairs.


173The house was therefore “their world, their toy, their god”; they loved to embellish and decorate it, they loved to take care of it and keep it clean, they loved to see it painted on panel and canvas; and some of them even went so far as to have their house reproduced in miniature, with all its furniture and belongings copied in wood and metal.

It would be a mistake to suppose that the so-called dolls’ houses, which may be studied in the museums of Amsterdam, Utrecht, and other towns, were merely the somewhat elaborate toys with which the English-speaking juvenile race sometimes amuse themselves. As the old inventories show, dolls’ houses and all their appurtenances were very vivid mirrors of contemporary life, including furniture and costume. This is particularly true of Holland, although other countries of Western Europe preserved evidences of the taste for similar “toys” of earlier date. Henry IV of France, for instance, when a child, played with toys, among which are noticeable a suit of clothes in wrought silver.

These dolls’ houses were elaborate and costly; for every detail of the real model was represented, including the small articles of porcelain, Delft, earthenware, pewter, brass and silver. Dolls’ salons, too, were often painted by noted masters, and cost thousands of florins. For example, a beautiful doll’s house of the date 1680, in the Antiquarian Museum of Utrecht, has its walls covered with paintings by Moucheron. The houses consisted of 174from four to eight rooms with furniture of wood, silver, gold, or filigree silver or gold. Such rooms as the kitchen, lying-in room and death chamber were often included. The latter was draped in black with a canvas or silver coffin containing a tiny wax corpse. Often, too, the house was completed with a pretty miniature garden embellished with a quantity of coral-work, trees, hedges, seats, paths and statuettes. We may note that Margaretha Godewijck had a doll’s house with a garden and arbour, upon which she wrote the following poem:—

Op myn coraal werk
Hier siet ghy van coraal in ’t cabinet besloten,
Een baeckermat, een wiegh, een korf, een stoof, een mandt,
Een kleerben opgepronckt, een bedsté, ledikant
Gevloghten van coraal en na de kunst gegoten,
Gemaeckt van suyver glas, en van verscheyden kleuren,
Aen d’ Aemstelstroom gevormt van blaeuw, van groen en peers,
Want sulck corale werck verdient oock wel een vers,
En Pallas sou het self voor wat bysonder keuren.
(On my coral work.
Placed in my cabinet here, you see made of coral
A baby’s basket, a cradle, a child’s foot-warmer and a warming-basket,
An ornamental clothes cupboard, a bed and bedstead of twisted and cast coral
And of pure glass, of different colours,
Shaped at Amstel’s stream of blue and green and purple.
For such coral-work deserves indeed a verse,
And even Pallas would judge it more than ordinary.)
Op myne thuyn van syde
Hoe seer dat Crassus pronckt en stoft op al sijn fruyten,
Gewassen buyten Roôm en aen het Tybers stof,
Hoe seer Lucullus pryst sijn bloemen, planten, spruyten,
Sijn ooft, sijn boom-gewas, sijn za’en, sijn braven hof,
Dit alles kan een wint, een buy en vlaegh verdrijven,
Soodat de bloem verdort en ’t rijpe fruyt verstickt.
Maer mynen hof van syd die sal gedurigh blyven.
Mijn fruyt het greetigh oogh, maer niet de mond verquict.
Geen spin, geen worm, geen rups en kan mijn boomen deeren,
Mijn bloemtjes somers sijn en ’s winters even groen,
Mijn kerssen altyd root, mijn appelen, mijn peeren
Sijn altyt even gaef, sy konnen ’t ooghe voên.
175(On my garden of silk
How much Cassius may pride himself and boast of all his fruit
Grown outside Rome and on the Tiber’s border;
How much Lucullus may praise his flowers, plants and twigs,
His lawns, his tree-garden, his seeds and a fine orchard—
All these can be scattered by the wind, a shower, or a gust;
So that the flower fades and the ripe fruit perishes,
But my silken garden will remain for ever.
My fruit satisfies the greedy eye, but not the mouth;
No spider, worm, nor caterpillar can hurt my trees;
My flowers are as green in winter as in summer,
My cherries always red, my apples and my pears
Always ripe and sound; they feed the eyes for ever.)

The dolls’ houses of the rich were always made of costly woods, and were frequently inlaid with ivory and tortoiseshell. At the exhibition of Amsterdam in 1858, among a number of these curiosities, was a notable one veneered with tortoiseshell and with painted glass doors—a present from the King of Denmark to Maarten Harpertz Tromp. Another was a typical Dutch house of walnut-root wood, furnished with silver furniture and wax dolls; there were also two of Italian make with tortoiseshell, ebony and brass ornaments, the doors of which were painted with Italian sea-towns; and one of ebony, the door-panels of which were painted by Peter Breughel.

In the Rijks Museum are several models in miniature of old Amsterdam houses. The finest one is of tortoiseshell ornamented with white metal inlay. According to tradition, Christoffel Brandt, Peter the Great’s agent in Amsterdam, had this house made by order of the Czar, and it is said to have cost 20,000 guilders (£2,500), and to have required five years to produce. Dating from the latter part of the seventeenth or first part of the eighteenth century, it contains all the furniture that was to be found at that date in an aristocratic dwelling on the Heerengracht or Keizersgracht. Every object in it was 176made by the proper artisan, so that it is correct in every detail.

Another dates from the first half of the eighteenth century. Architecturally it is very interesting; but the interior furnishings are much simpler than the above.

A third house, belonging to the family Ploos van Amstel, dates from the first half of the eighteenth century, and is supposed to be inhabited by a doctor. It is three storeys high, and has a wide door on the façade with the initials P.V.A. (Ploos Van Amstel) artistically interlaced. Of its twelve rooms, the most remarkable are the parlour and the physician’s study, containing a library, a collection of preparations and a collection of shells and artistic objects in ivory, every item of which is reproduced in miniature.

According to Mr. E. W. Berg, who gives a minute description of this house in De Oude Tyd (1872), it is said that by this doctor is meant Christoffel Ludeman, the well-known “wonder-doctor.”

It was a fad with the wealthy to possess these curious silver toys, which passed from generation to generation. Sometimes the collection consisted of hundreds of pieces. Mrs. van Varick, of New Amsterdam (1696), had no less than eighty-three silver toys to divide among her children.

These silver and gold toys were so artistically made that they attracted the attention of many travellers, who paid large sums for them. Many beautiful and quaint specimens are therefore to be seen in the European Museums and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sets of dolls’ porcelain were also collected in this 177century and preserved in show-cases or china-cabinets, with a collection of dolls’ clothes. These cabinets of dolls’ articles were even found in farmhouses, and sometimes jewellery and small articles of value were kept in them.

Many of the poorer houses in the seventeenth century were built of wood or stone, with wooden gables that projected far over the narrow street, so far indeed that the occupants of the one could shake hands across the street with those in the opposite house. Many of these houses were gradually replaced by newer houses of a more regular aspect. As the century wears on they increase in height and solidity. As a rule, the house is of three storeys, with a tiled roof. In the lower floor there is a row of small windows with small panes set in lead and protected by ornamental iron-work. These windows admit light into the small office and entrance-hall, and run along the whole width of the house above the “luifel” (verandah), under which in the daytime wares are offered for sale, and where on fine evenings the burgher sits with his wife and family. Sometimes the thrifty housewife may be seen sitting under the verandah knitting, spinning, sewing, or darning, with her feet on a foot-rest, and the children playing around her. The baby’s cradle is sometimes brought out as well. On Saturdays the children are bathed and washed under the “luifel,” without the public taking the least notice. Gentlemen’s houses, however, have no verandahs, but both sides of the door or gate are flanked by windows with shutters, and this door is on a level with the entrance. The arrangement of the windows on the second 178floor is like that of the first. Chrysostomus Napolitanus says in 1516, “The dwelling-houses have nearly all the same shape and architecture. The back walls do not rise very high, but end in a point and step-like.” These gable steps were sometimes ornamented with stone vases or images, and the coping was also decorated. In the seventeenth century the houses were built narrower but higher, as also the windows, while the wire screens and the verandahs gradually disappeared. The copings and ornamentations of the cornice were, however, not less richly sculptured; and, under the top windows, stone figures, Caryatides, lions and coats-of-arms were often introduced. In the third storey there were one or two windows, above which the arms of the proprietor were carved. Instead of the armorial device, sometimes a figure, a pair of compasses, or a bell was introduced, from which the house took its name; or again the family name would be carved in gigantic letters. In the course of time the name of the occupant was used less than the name of the house in which he lived. We find mention of the house Blijenburgh, Moesienbroeck, Cruysenborch, Nuysenborch, Blijensteyn, Kleyn Jerusalem, ’t Huys Beaumont, Groot en Kleyn Rosendaeal, etc. Behind the houses were gardens with summer-houses, surrounded with fences of trellis-work. In the common houses a stone-paved hallway leads through the house to an open back yard, where there is a grass plot to bleach the clothes on, and where a room is built with a fireplace and kitchen. From the vestibule a stairway leads to the second floor, which communicates with a smaller stairway and often with a ladder to the floor above.

179Let us enter a rich home and see how the rooms are arranged. We pass through a great oaken door painted green and furnished with a heavy iron knocker, to enter a high and commodious vestibule, the walls of which are hung with pictures, deers’ heads or other hunting trophies. On one side is a broad oak staircase with a lion, griffin, or dragon beautifully carved at the base, and holding in his paws the same coat-of-arms that is carved in front of the gable. Facing the entrance hangs a magnificent oil painting. In less wealthy homes the vestibule is encased with blue and white tiles, and the floor is also laid in the same, and a carved oak or stone bench faces the door. As this “voorhuis,” or vestibule, is used by the less fashionable as a living apartment, there also stands here a table, and on the wall a mirror in an ebony frame, and many polished brass vessels and Delft dishes and plates give a homelike character to the spot. A house of this type has a verandah outside, on and under which the small merchant conducts his business, although his office or “comptoir” is at the back. If this happens to be a school, the master or mistress teaches his or her class under the “luifel”; or, if an inn, this is the meeting or smoking-room.

The “comptoir” is also found in the homes of the rich, and the lady of the house often sits there with her children, not because it is the most attractive place, but in order to keep the better rooms neat and clean. In rich houses many of the rooms are known by individual names,—some according to the use to which they were put, others on account of the hangings, the name of the occupant, or an important piece of furniture. Hence we 180have the salon, dining-room, show-room, the sleeping-room, the little cabinet (office), the gold leather room, the damask room, the matted room, the room of Adam and Eve, Mr. Arends’s room, Miss Emerentia’s room, Mr. Cornelius van Beveren’s sleeping-room, etc., etc.

In wealthy homes the walls of some rooms were encased in tiles, decorated with painted figures, flowers, arms, or pictorial scenes or mottoes; and upon these hung many fine paintings in richly carved ebony frames. In some houses every available space on the wall in every room was occupied by a picture; so that from top to bottom the rooms were filled with masterpieces of art. Some rooms on the ground floor were hung with splendid tapestries, representing hunting-scenes, Biblical stories, coats-of-arms, mythological and historical legends and stories, etc., etc. Other rooms were hung with embroidered materials, with red velvet, with gold or silver flowered borders, or with gold or stamped leather of various colours and patterns. Sometimes, also, the walls were panelled and wainscotted, particularly where beds or cupboards stood. In poor houses the walls were simply whitewashed or covered with square tiles of gay colours. The ordinary burghers strewed their floors with fine sand, and often arranged it so deftly by means of the broom in a design of flowers or geometrical figures that one would think a figured carpet was laid upon the floor. In rich homes the floor, as a rule, was covered with fine Spanish matting; and when guests came, a rug or carpet was spread over this, but on their departure it was carefully rolled up and put away. Some of the floors—often those of the garret—were laid in coloured tiles.

181One of the principal ornaments in rich houses was the painted glass. In some rooms every window was adorned with painted glass, but in less wealthy homes one window had to suffice. This was generally a round one painted in gaudy hues and neatly framed. Such glass was a favourite present. Sometimes the engraver had inscribed upon it Dutch or Latin proverbs; but more frequently it was embellished with the coat-of-arms of the master of the house, portraits, landscapes, Biblical and popular stories, such as Reynard the Fox, The Adventures of the four Heems Children, or The Drolleries of Tyll Eulenspiegel. The ceilings rested on heavy oak beams with many cross beams; and even in rich houses ceilings and beams were artistically painted. In the centre of the ceiling was hung a brass, or gilded wooden chandelier for wax or tallow candles; and additional light was derived from sconces fastened to the walls and on either side of the chimney-piece. Occasionally the candelabra were of crystal. In some rooms models of ships correctly rigged hung from the beams; and sometimes stuffed animals, heads, fish, weapons, and wedding ornaments and favours kept them company.

The chimney-piece always received a good deal of attention. It was very wide and high. Wood and peat were both burned on the large silver, brass, iron or steel andirons. The space in the overmantel was often painted by the best master available, or was occupied by a painting in a carved frame. On either side of the picture were sconces containing wax candles that illuminated the painting at night. The broad chimney shelf was occupied with Japanese and Chinese porcelains and 182lacquers; and in the summer time the pot that was suspended from a crane in the chimney was taken away and replaced by large porcelain vases and beakers. A handsome chimney cloth was usually hung just below the shelf.

Being exceedingly economical, the Dutch could not easily squander money for pleasures or recreations, but for the “home” they would spend lavishly. A handsome piece of furniture or silver, beautiful porcelain, rare tulips, rich curtains and rugs, valuable paintings, fine glass, and curios from the Far East would induce the opulent Dutchman to part with large sums; and his wife spent the greater part of her life in ornamenting and beautifying the home, taking care of the treasures it contained, and, above all, in keeping the house and its contents clean and in order. A rich merchant, Asselijn, said:—

Ziet wat een fraei kasteel! wat heit het me gecost!
Myn gelt is nyet verbrast aan keur van vremde cost.
Voor paerden en gery en zeldzaeme sieraeden
En gaf ik nyet een myt; geen bloem-fluweelgewaden
Versieren ’t stinckend lyf, de logge madenzak.
Myn huys is myn sieraet, myn huys myn beste pack.
Daer voor is myn tresoor, daer voor myn koffer open,
En wat myn huys behoeft, dat haest ick my te koopen.
(See what a beautiful castle! What a sum it costs!
My money is not spent in choice of foreign viands.
For horses and equipages and rare ornaments
I did not spend a mite; no flowery velvet dresses
Adorn the wasting body, the clumsy stomach:
My home is my ornament, my house my best costume,
Therefore my treasury and my coffer are open,
And what my house needs I hasten to buy.)

And Godewijck puts these words into the mouth of a daughter of an alderman:—

183Myn stoffer is myn swaerd, myn bussem is myn wapen.
Ick kenne geene rust, ick weete van geen slaepen.
Ick denck aen geen salet, ick denck niet aen myn keel.
Geen arbeyt my te swaer, geen zorge my te veel
Om alles gladdekens en sonder smet te maken.
Ik wil niet dat de maegd myn pronkstuck aan zal raken;
Ick selve wrijf en boen, ick flodder en ick schrob,
Ick aes op ’t kleinste stof, ik beef niet voor den tob
Gelyck de pronckmadam.
(My brush is my sword, my besom is my weapon.
I know no rest, I know no sleep.
I don’t think of my room, I don’t think of my throat.
No labour is too heavy, no care I think too much
To make everything smooth and without blemish.
I will not let the maid touch my pretty things;
I, myself, will rub and polish, I will splash and scrub;
I hunt the speck of dust, I do not fear the tub
Like a fine lady.)

These are samples of many speeches in the old comedies, where the women constantly talk about housecleaning and scrubbing.

English travellers of this period unanimously praised the way the Dutch houses were kept. One wrote: “They are not large, but neat, beautiful outside and well furnished inside; and the furniture is so clean and in good order that it appears to be more an exhibition than for daily use.” The farms also attracted the attention of the stranger. Another traveller said: “The Dutch farmer keeps his land as neatly as a courtier trims his beard; and his house is as choice as a lady who comes out of her dressing-room. A well-dressed lady cannot look neater than the fine gable and the thatched roof of a Dutch farmhouse.”

In his Brief Character of the Low Countries, Owen Feltham describes an Amsterdam house of the middle of the seventeenth century. “When you are entered the house,” he writes, “the first thing you encounter is a 184Looking-Glasse. No question but a true Embleme of politick hospitality; for though to reflect yourself in your own figure, ‘tis yet no longer than while you are there before it. When you are gone once, it flatters the next commer, without the least remembrance that you were ere there.

“The next are the vessels of the house marshalled about the room like watchmen. All is neat as you were in a Citizen’s Wife’s Cabinet; for unless it be themselves, they let none of God’s creatures lose anything of their native beauty.

“Their houses, especially in their Cities, are the best eye-beauties of their Country. For cost and sight, they far exceed our English, but they want their magnificence. Their lining is yet more rich than their outside; not in hangings, but pictures, which even the poorest are there furnisht with. Not a cobler but has his toyes for ornament. Were the knacks of all their homes set together, there would not be such another Bartholomew-Faire in Europe....

“Their beds are no other than land-cabines, high enough to need a ladder or stairs. Up once, you are walled in with Wainscot, and that is a good discretion to avoid the trouble of making your will every night; for once falling out else would break your neck promptly. But if you die in it this comfort you shall leave your friends, that you dy’d in clean linen.

“Whatsoever their estates be, their houses must be fair. Therefore from Amsterdam they have banisht seacoale, lest it soyl their buildings, of which the statlier sort are sometimes sententious, and in the front carry 185some conceit of the Owner. As to give you a taste in these:—

Christus Adjutor Meus;
Hoc abdicato Perenne Quero;
Hic Medio tuitus Itur.

“Every door seems studded with Diamonds. The nails and hinges hold a constant brightnesse, as if rust there was not a quality incident to Iron. Their houses they keep cleaner than their bodies; their bodies than their souls. Goe to one, you shall find the Andirons shut up in network. At a second, the Warming-pan muffled in Italian Cutworke. At a third the Sconce clad in Cambrick.”

English travellers are not the only ones to bear witness to the extremes to which cleanliness was carried by the housewives of the Low Countries. A French writer, De Parival, says:—

“The wives and daughters scour and rub benches, chests, cupboards, dressers, tables, plate racks, even the stairs until they shine like mirrors. Some are so clean that they would not enter any of the rooms without taking off their shoes and putting on their slippers. The women put all their energy and pleasure in keeping the house and the furniture clean. The floors are washed nearly every day and scoured with sand, and are so neat that a stranger is afraid to expectorate on them. If the city women keep their houses clean, the farmers’ wives are not less particular. They carry this cleanliness even into the stables. They scour everything, even the iron chains and mounts until they shine like silver.”

186The same traveller also says: “The furniture of the principal burghers, besides gold and silver ware, consists of tapestries, costly paintings (for which no money is saved, but rather eked out in economical living), beautifully carved woodwork, such as tables, treasure-chests, etc., and pewter, brass, earthenware, porcelains, etc.”

Another foreigner says: “Their interior decorations are far more costly than our own [English], not only in hangings and ornaments, but in pictures, which are found even in the poorer houses. No farmer or even common labourer is found who has not some kind of interior ornaments and so varied that if all were put together it would often fill a booth at the fair.”

Chrysostomus Napolitanus, who visited Holland in 1516, says: “Goede Hemel! welk eene netheid van het gereedschap! welk eene kostelijkheid van bedden en welk eene blankheid van servetten, tafels en tafellakens! welk een sieraad aan de stoelen! welke zindelijkheid eindelijk aan muren, vloer en al het overige! Den bodem der spijs-, noen- en slaapvertrekken bestrooien zij met een weinig zand, opdat, zoo er bij geval iets morsigs op mocht vallen, zoo iemand somwijlen er vuile voeten op mocht zetten, de vloer zelve er niet door besmet zou worden, maar men het terstond, eer het er zich aan vasthecht, met bezems uit zou kunnen keeren.

(“Good Heavens! What a neatness of the utensils! how costly the beds and bedding, and how white the sheets, serviettes and tablecloths! What an ornamentation on the chairs, and, lastly, what cleanliness of the floors, walls and everything! The floors of the eating, sleeping and sitting rooms are strewn with a 187little sand, so that if anything should drop and one should accidentally step upon it, the floor would not be soiled, and before the matter could stick to it, the dirt might be removed with a broom.”)

Fifty years later, Guicciardini, after praising the general state of the civilization and courtesy of the people, and remarking on the beauty of the public and private buildings, says: “But after all this if one enters their homes and notices the abundance of all kinds of furniture, and the order and neatness of everything, it gives one great pleasure, and one looks upon it as a wonder. And indeed it is, for there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.”

The inventories of the day give evidence of a great variety and number of cleaning utensils. Brooms and brushes of all kinds, tubs, pails, buckets, scrubbers tied with red leather, dust brushes called hogs, floor brushes, hearth hair brushes with brass and wooden handles occur in every house. One inventory of 1685 shows how well supplied a rich home was with articles for cleaning and scrubbing. These are as follows: five whiting brushes, one brush to clean the floors, five rubbers, three small painting brushes, four dust brushes, two floor brushes, two hair brushes, two hearth brooms, one chamber broom, one rake brush, one brush, one hay broom without a stick, and two Bermudian brooms with sticks. Cooking and cleaning implements and utensils were kept in the kitchen and in the cellar underneath. Pictures by Dutch masters show that in clement weather a good deal of housework was done in the tiled court or yard adjoining the kitchen.

188As an example of the ordinary burgher’s home, let us take the house on one of the corners of the Mat Wharf on the Voorstraat in Dordrecht, dating from the beginning of the seventeenth century, and dwelt in by Andreas Hulstman Janz, merchant in wood, his wife Elizabeth Balen Matthews, and his children Jan, Christine and Alette.

The house has a sharp pointed gable and is three storeys high. The windows are provided with balconies, and a larger verandah runs along above the blue stone stoop. On each side of the rounded door embellished with iron-work are small windows supplied with trellises, as are likewise the four windows above the verandah that light the little office or “comptoir.” As we tap the iron knocker, a man or maid servant opens the door, and we notice that the little windows dimly divined through the creeper-shaded trellis are set in lead and supply but little light. The front hall runs on the left-hand side directly through the house, opening into a little yard that communicates with some smaller apartments and the kitchen.

On the right hand side is a small apartment, called the “little comptoir,” the favourite room of the mother and her daughters when the housework is done, for they can see through the trellis and “watch the street.”

In the hallway, a narrow staircase leads to the second floor, “the best part,” where the “show” and “guestrooms” are situated, while on the third floor are the bedrooms, and in the garret, the drying-room, mangle-room, brass and tin rooms. Here also the peat and firewood are kept. Passing up the stairway, we enter 189the living-room, which looks upon the front hall, and from which, when the door is open, a view of the street is obtained. This arrangement is familiar in many Dutch pictures, notably in that of The Sick Lady (Plate XXXVII).

The living-room is rather sombre. The white walls are partly covered with pictures, and the floor is strewn with fine sand in a pattern resembling a carpet. Three large pieces of furniture are conspicuous, two oak cupboards standing on heavy ball feet, their broad flat tops ornamented with handsome beakers and vases of porcelain; the third piece is a large sacredaan kas hung with green curtains. In this the library is contained, consisting of a few books of travel, atlases, poetry by Cats, Vondel, Godewijck, Antonides, a number of religious works, commentaries on the catechism, hymn-books, the medical works of Battus and Beverwijck, and a few translated novels (for in this day there was but little Dutch fiction). In the centre of the room there stands a large and heavy oak table, with low chairs of the same, and covered with leather seats arranged symmetrically around it. In one corner of the room we note a reading-desk on which rests an enormous Bible bound in leather, with great brass mounts. The chimneypiece is enormous; if it is winter, a tremendous peat and wood fire is perpetually burning; if summer, the fireplace is ornamented with large, handsome faïence, or porcelain vases. This is the room in which the family gathers for breakfast, dinner and supper, and passes the winter evenings pleasantly enough.

From this room we enter the kitchen. We hardly 190know what to notice first—the marble tiles shining like glass, the brass and pewter gleaming like gold and silver from the racks and dressers, the well-filled china closet, the rose-red painted table, with the yellow painted rush-bottomed chairs, or the general effect of charm, cheerfulness, colour and neatness. We are told that the lady of the house calls this her “holy” (as she calls the show-room the “tabernacle”), and allows no cooking to be done here. There is a small back kitchen built for this purpose called “snuiver” (cooking shed), where all the food is prepared.

Before leaving this room we must describe the dresser, in which all the articles for breakfast service are kept and, in poor houses, left-over food. The used napkins are folded and placed here, and there are drawers for table linen and other small utensils. It contains a candle-drawer, and upon one of its shelves stands the heavy brass candlestick. The peculiar extinguisher is called familiarly “the cat’s head,” on account of its resemblance to the head of a cat. This is narrower at the bottom than the top, and has a handle on each side. This stands next to the peat-box, often the lower part of a pot cupboard opened and shut with a slide Underneath the chimney is placed the fire-pot, for stoves are not known. These innovations, imported from Germany, were heartily despised and called contemptuously “stink-pots” and “muff-boxes.”

Omitting the cellar and store-rooms, we pass upstairs to the bedroom of the master and mistress on the second floor. Pictures, chiefly family portraits, adorn the walls. The floor is of wood, highly polished, and so 191slippery that great care is required in walking across it.

The furniture consists of chairs with tall backs and low seats, a carved table with a tapestry or rug cover, a large oak cabinet and a cupboard on four legs, the treasure-chest and the wash-buffet, with wash-mops and toilet appliances. A heavy green damask curtain hangs before the bed, which is so high above the floor that it must be entered with the aid of a small stepladder that stands in one corner of the room next to the brass warming-pan. Sometimes a cradle, called “coach,” for the baby stands at the foot and sometimes under the bed.

These beds have often been ridiculed. The bedstead, however, soon supplanted the panelled bed, although it has never banished it altogether.

The inventory of Gertrude van Mierevelt (1639), wife of the painter Van Mierevelt of Delft who died in 1638, gives an excellent idea of a comfortable Dutch home of the early seventeenth century. First should be mentioned six beds with handsome draperies, tapestries, rich furniture covers, and other woollen articles (wollegoet), that prove how much the artist and his wife liked rich textiles. The tinnewerk, consisting of plates, dishes, salt-cellars, etc., shows that the table-service was of pewter, although twenty-eight articles in porcelain and faïence, consisting of plates, bowls and dishes, valued at about twenty-six florins, are also enumerated. The house also contained a great many copper articles and utensils, from tongs and shovels to those fine repoussée dishes so highly prized to-day by collectors; and there was a considerable amount of ironware, 192including two lanterns. There were some statues in plaster, including a “Suzanne,” ninety-four paintings, chiefly religious, and family portraits, although one representing “Pomona and Flora” is mentioned. The artist also had some violins, a little book of engravings, some wooden panels, and a library of thirty-seven volumes. Many of these were illustrated, and dealt with religious and historical subjects; and as they were all in Dutch it would seem that the artist could read no other language. Especially noticeable is the fine collection of linen, the pride of the mistress. She had no less than twenty-five pairs of sheets, a hundred and eighteen serviettes and fifteen tablecloths, one of which fetched as much as fifteen florins at the sale in 1639, and another of damask (damast taefellaecken), twenty florins.

The most important room of the home of a burgher of moderate means was the hall, or general living-room. This, as so many pictures show, had a great fireplace, at which meals were often cooked. The furniture consisted of tables, chairs, cabinets, and, very frequently, a bed. The chimney-piece is massive, high and often elaborately carved, and above it a landscape, fruit piece, Kermesse, flower-piece or battle-scene by a favourite painter, is hung to form part of the decoration. This chimney-piece is, moreover, filled with porcelain dishes, cups, plates, teapots and curios. Below it hangs an ornamental chimney cloth embroidered with gaily-coloured flowers, red or green silk, white muslin, or figured calico. The hearth is framed in blue and white tiles, furnished with an iron fireback and supplied with brass and irons, racks for the fire-irons, pot-hooks, spits, 193a crane on which a large brass kettle hangs, and small hooks from which the bellows, hearth brooms, shovel, tongs, etc., hang conveniently for use. A brass or copper warming-pan is not far away. The walls are adorned with pictures, a large looking-glass in an ebony frame, a wall-board with hooks for small cans and jugs and a plate rack or two in which some handsome plates and dishes are formally arranged. A great linen press, or kas, filled with tablecloths and napkins, the head of which is decorated with large Japanese beakers and smaller cups and vases, stands on one side of the room, and a glass case filled with teapots, cups and saucers, dishes, etc., and an East India cabinet on the other. A gaudily-painted Hindeloopen clock ticks on the wall. A large table stands in the centre of the room, covered with a heavy Turkish rug or “carpet,” and several little tables are conveniently disposed. The Russia leather, Turkey work and matted chairs are symmetrically arranged around the walls beneath the many pictures of landscape, interiors or still-life. The windows are curtained, the hangings of red or green striped silk or flowered calico matching those of the bedstead, which can be completely closed like a large box. On the four corners of the cornice of this bed are bunches of feathers or a painted wooden ornament. The casement windows have tiny diamond-shaped or round panes set in lead, and on the outside creepers and roses are carefully trained, forming a beautiful framework. Upon the sills stand flower-pots in which a bright tulip or other favourite flower is blooming.

The first apartment entered from the front door of 194a merchant’s house was the “voorhuis,” or front room, where visitors were formally received. This was more or less handsomely furnished in accordance with the means of the owner. It was usually a sort of hall, sometimes of considerable dimensions.

A “voorhuis,” as it appears in an inventory of 1686, contains a very handsome marble table with a carved wooden frame, a table covered with a handsome cloth, and a very fine tall clock. The seats consisted of seven Russia leather chairs and one matted chair furnished with a cushion. The room was lighted with three glass windows with leaden frames, handsomely curtained, and eleven pictures decorated the walls. The value of this furniture was £125 in present money.

In many houses the second floor was only used for “show rooms,” and the family slept in either the lower or the top floor. Bernagie writes: “If you go through the town, you will find many houses where the husband is afraid so much as even to smell at his second floor rooms. They always remain downstairs. Have they ever so many courtly rooms, they will eat, for their wives’ sake, in the small back kitchen.”

This was the case in most of the burghers’ houses. These show-rooms were used only on some special occasion; otherwise they were never entered except for cleaning. This took place weekly and oftener, with special cleaning in the spring and autumn. Rooms in constant use were daily stripped and cleaned, and the housewife barely allowed herself time to eat. Some enthusiastic housekeepers—although wealthy—would not allow the servants to clean their best rooms, but wielded 195“the scrubbing-brush, rubbing-towel and floor-cloth.” There are examples of houses where from thirty to forty pails of water were used every day, and where the servants did nothing but rub and scrub and scour from morning till night. Many of the houses were exceedingly damp in consequence, and the inmates constantly ill. Notwithstanding the ridicule the Dutch housewife suffered in books and on the stage, her mania for cleaning was so great that she cared not at all if the house was termed “hell” and the cleaners “she-devils.”

In some families home was made still more uncomfortable on account of the little amount of cooking done. Certain dishes were prepared once a week and then “warmed up,” so that the stove would not be soiled. In North Holland a month would sometimes elapse between the making of fires for cooking in the fireplace. All the cooking was done by means of a little boiling water in the fire-pot.

The show-room, or “holy of holies,” as the Dutch woman was pleased to call it, was furnished according to the means or class of the owner. Among the higher classes a party was often given in it. In such homes the floor was covered with expensive Turkish rugs, and the walls hung with tapestries, silk damask or gold leather. These were further adorned with Venetian mirrors and paintings worth their weight in gold. The chairs were of rare exotic or foreign woods supplied with embroidered cushions, or seats of Utrecht velvet, and the other furniture consisted of beautifully painted or inlaid or mosaic tables, beautifully carved cupboards, and rare cabinets inlaid with silver, ivory or tortoiseshell, and 196filled with the finest egg-shell porcelain. Porcelains and curios adorned the high carved chimney.

In older aristocratic homes the “show-room” was less lavishly furnished, but none the less the pride of the mistress. The floor was covered with mats, the walls with painted linen, or handsome paintings; but in rare porcelain it was the equal of any alderman’s or mayor’s wife.

As time wore on, the walnut cabinet supplanted the carved or oak cupboard, the vitrine took the place of the china-cabinet and the console and glass appeared between the windows, and finally we arrive at the period when the small bookcase with glass or mirror doors appears and chairs covered with figured rep.

The kitchen usually contained a bedstead with feather bed, pillows and curtains, a looking-glass in a black frame, a cupboard, chairs, a table, andirons, innumerable brooms and brushes, flint and steel for striking a light, shovels, tongs, gridirons, dripping-pans, whetting-boards for knives, tubs, butter firkins (earthenware, pewter, brass and tin), knives, forks, spoons, stills, churns, hanging boards, can-boards, pots, pails, skimmers, funnels, salt-boxes, candle-boxes, frying-pans, beakers, candlesticks, dripping-pans, skewers, stewing-pans with covers, copper kettles, chafing-dishes, hour-glasses, lamps, hammers, tankards, tin pans to roast apples, pot-hangers, dishes to boil fish on, mortars and pestles, waffle-irons, bellows, kettles, a birdcage, saucepans, platters, cans, pepper mills, tin ware to bake sugar cakes, marzipan pans, racks to hang clothes on, wicker baskets, hampers, tubs, glass knockers to beat clothes, smoothing irons, tin watering pots to wet clothes, rainwater casks, etc., etc.

197In order to gain an idea of a lady’s bedroom of the period, let us visit that of the wealthy Mrs. Lidia van der Dussen, the daughter of Jacob van Beveren, alderman of Dordrecht and bailiff and dike-count of the Country of Strijen. The house is one of those with a high peaked gable; it has oblong round-headed windows with small panes set in lead, and a façade decorated with carvings and arms, while the name of the house is inscribed in marble at the top. Green and red damask curtains at the windows give the exterior an air of cheerfulness and comfort. We enter. To the right of the large vestibule, the floor of which is laid in marble tiles of blue and white, a wide marble staircase leads to a wide marble hallway. The floor of this is covered with the finest Spanish matting, and on each side of the hall are doors opening into various rooms. These heavy doors are of oak, and are elaborately carved or painted with cherubs, shepherds and shepherdesses, etc. Opening one of these doors at the rear—the quietest part of the house—we find ourselves in a large room, the stone floor of which is covered with rich rugs, while tiles ornamented with bright pictorial designs, or mottoes, cover the walls. The dark and heavy serge curtains that hang at the windows prevent us from distinguishing the furniture of the room very clearly; but we gradually make out the articles one by one. We note the splendid array of vases and beakers that adorn the wide mantelpiece, and also the top of the china cabinet of sacredaan wood, and the massive and richly carved, or deeply panelled, linen wardrobe, or kas. A handsome walnut bedstead stands in one corner of the room. The four 198twisted pillars support a canopy, from which fall heavy serge curtains, that conceal a wealth of fine linen and Flemish lace. The four corners of the canopy are surmounted by the favourite ornament of the period, the “pomme” consisting of a bunch of plumes,—in this instance of green, red and black. The walls, although encased in tiles, are hung with pictures in ebony frames, in addition to which there is a large Venetian mirror set in a rich crystal frame. A drop-leaf table stands in the centre of the room, surrounded by several chairs with high backs and low seats. The woodwork of these chairs, shining like glass from the devoted polishing it receives, is, like the china-cabinet already mentioned, of sacredaan. We also note in this room a beautifully made wicker cot, or basket, for the baby.

In early days this article of furniture was of large dimensions, and the nurse sat beside it with a large screen at the side to keep away draughts. Some of these cots were shaped like cradles without the rockers, and were supplied with a shelf or wing on the side as a protection from the heat of the peat fire. At a later period of this century, the cradle rested on two rounded rockers, and had a rounded hood or canopy. It was made of plum-tree wood, or of wicker lined with yellow satin and trimmed with costly lace. Royalty was rocked in cradles of gold or silver; that of Charles V, however, shown in the Brussels Museum, is of wood, carved in the Gothic style and painted. A primitive form of Dutch cradle was suspended from iron rings on two posts of wood, and a later kind, recommended by ‘s Gravesande, had a spring on one side and a weight on the other, so 199that when once put in motion it would continue rocking for a long time.

Near the cradle stood the “fire” or “napkin basket,” also made of wicker and covered with serge, or with richer material if the home was one of wealth. In the inventory of Vrouwe Reepmaker (1670), for example, “white and satin basket covers” occur. The “fire” or “napkin basket” contained everything pertaining to the baby’s outfit; and mention is made in the inventories of “a neat,” “a simple,” or “a costly fire basket,” according to the circumstances of the owner. The “fire basket” with its outfit was given as a present to the young mother by the husband’s mother or one of the aunts. In a celebrated farce of the period, Old Brechtje says: “Van mijn peetje een wonderlicke schoone corf ecregen, die voor al myn kyeren eef edient. Ze eef hem van lapwerck en fraeykens van croonsaey en passementen emaeckt.” (“I got from my aunt a wonderfully beautiful basket, which has served for all my children. She made it of patchwork, and covered it nicely with serge and embroidery.”)

On a table, an open buffet, or dressoir, or a glass cabinet, all the baby’s silver was arrayed, such as the herb-box, the pap-pot, the cinnamon bowl with cover and spoon, and the large clothes tray—all inherited gifts from godfathers and godmothers of many generations. Each piece is variously inscribed, sometimes dating as far back as the sixteenth century, or earlier. This large silver tray holds the costly clothing that will be used at the christening, such as the cambric and lace robes and the red velvet robe lined with red silk, the 200satin tufted blanket and other articles of baby dress. Nor must the large pincushion be forgotten, on which the baby’s name will be printed with pins.

The bride’s basket was just as important as the baby’s basket. This was also made of wicker, and, according to the means of the parents, lined with rich or simple material. It was adorned with flowers, and contained, not the bride’s dresses, but the wedding-shawl and ornaments belonging to it, the jewels and gloves that the bride was to wear at the wedding, and also the gifts of the bridegroom.

The “bride’s crown” and “bride’s throne” received a great deal of attention from the loving hands that were busy with the preparations for the festivities. The house was turned into a perfect bower on the occasion of a wedding. Garlands of palms, flowers and evergreens were interwoven, and hung upon the walls with the green boughs that were variously twined and twisted. Gold and silver favours, love-knots, marriage-bells and other devices and letters forming mottoes and riddles, were displayed among the greenery and flowers, and the name or initials of the bride and groom were to be seen on every side. Magnificent Japanese vases filled with flowers, particularly the brilliant tulip, were placed in every available space. Handsome mirrors were removed from other rooms and hung among the garlands and flowers to add more light and beauty to the rooms. Not unfrequently the outside of the house received its share of decoration, when the street doors were covered with greenery and garlands were hung from all the windows.

201The Dutch made lavish use of flowers and greenery on festive occasions.

When Charles II was called home from Holland in 1660 to ascend the empty throne, he received a magnificent farewell entertainment by the States-General. The festivities lasted over several days, and are described in considerable detail by Sir John Lower, who was present. In his book we get an occasional glimpse of the furniture of the day, particularly its disposition on gala occasions. The great sideboards, or cupboards, are mentioned with admiration. The great feasts were given in the Mauritshuis, The Hague, which was the scene of lavish hospitality. Describing one of these entertainments, Lower tells us: “From the centre of the lover or open roof descended a Royal Crown, very gallantly made, in the midst of four lusters or crystal candlesticks, which with many other candlesticks, arms of silver and a great number of torches, enlightened all corners much better than the Sun could have done at midday. They gave particularly a marvellous lustre to the two bottoms of the chimney which is on the left side, where two partitions of painted wood shut up as many cupboards of crystal glasses, and a great store of vessels and of silver plate and vermillion gilt. The Hall was furnished with ordinary Tapestry, which is of crimson damask, and had no other adornments but that here and there there were some fair pictures, and that the ends of the chimnies and the void places above the cross-bar windows were adorned with garlands, leaves and figures of trees loaden with oranges and mingled with all sorts of flowers, which formed not only a very regular compartment, 202but wonderfully refreshed also the chamber and charmed no less the smell by their perfume than they pleased the sight through the diversity of their rich enamel.”



Rise of Dutch Taste in Decorative Art—Influence of Foreign Trade in the Dutch Home—Accounts of Porcelain by Mediaeval Travellers: Edrisi, Ibn Batuta and Shah Rukh; Quotation from Pigapheta—A great European Collection—Monopoly of Trade by the Portuguese—Quotation from Pyrard de Laval—Portuguese Carracks—Voyages to Goa and Japan—Porcelain and Cabinets—Mendoza’s Description of Earthenware—Dutch and English Merchants—Presents to Queen Elizabeth—Dutch Expeditions and Establishment of the Dutch East India Company—Embassy to the Emperor of China in 1655—Descriptions of the Manufacture of Porcelain—Manufacture and Potters of Delft—Quotation from d’Entrecolles on Porcelain and Oriental Trade—Prices—Tea; Tea-drinking—A Dutch Poet on the Tea-table—Chrestina de Ridder’s Porcelain—Prices of Porcelain in 1653.

Until the middle of the seventeenth century, Flanders may be said to have overshadowed Holland in the field of Decorative Art, although, as we have seen, the two most important designers of domestic furniture—De Vries and Crispin van de Passe—were Dutch. The reason of Flemish preponderance was that the sovereigns and regents resided at Mechlin, Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp, and to those courts the ablest men in the arts and crafts naturally flocked. With the decay of Antwerp, we enter the period of the Flemish Decadence, and Amsterdam rises to wealth and power at her rival’s expense. After the death of Rubens, Dutch art 204is supreme in the Low Countries; and Dutch taste undoubtedly influenced France and England.

The Dutch home of the seventeenth century was profoundly affected by foreign trade. The day of heavy carved furniture was over lightness and brightness are now the prevailing notes. Broad surfaces are veneered and inlaid with exotic woods; and the lathe is freely used in the ornamentation of the supports of seats, cupboards, cabinets, etc. Above all, we notice a predominance of native and Oriental ceramic ware.

The Dutch were as fond of earthenware as of tulips; and no study of a Dutch interior could be adequate if it neglected to take into account the part played by Delft and porcelain.

The three novelties that impressed the Dutch home of the seventeenth century were tea, porcelain and lacquer. The importance of tea, with its table and equipage as a domestic altar, can hardly be overestimated; but its consideration may be deferred for the moment. Porcelain affected the arrangement of furniture and the decoration of rooms. The cabinet assumed new forms and proportions, as porcelain decorated its exterior.

Although Chinese porcelains had appeared in the cabinets of amateurs of the sixteenth century, the comparative rarity of this ware confined its enjoyment to the very wealthy. The magnificent ebony cabinets, armoires, or kasten, with drawers and interior shelves in which women delighted to set in beautiful order miniatures and jewels, enamels and ivories, shells and rock-crystals, medals and coral, now had also to find room for carved ivory and ebony, gods and monsters, 205jade, porcelain, sandal-wood and lacquer boxes, and all the rarities that were to be found in the stores of the Eastern traders.

Porcelain was early held in high esteem, and a vase was regarded as a fit present from one potentate to another. It was very rare in Western Europe until the Portuguese opened the Eastern gates. Mediaeval travellers had frequently referred to its preciousness. Edrisi (1154) says of Susah: “Here are made an unequalled kind of porcelain, the Ghazar of China.” There was always a certain mystery attached to its composition and qualities till the beginning of the eighteenth century. Ibn Batuta, who travelled in Bengal and China about 1350, gives a more or less fabulous account of its manufacture. He says: “Porcelain in China is of about the same value as earthenware with us, or even less. It is exported to India and elsewhere, passing from country to country till it reaches us in Morocco. It is certainly the finest of all pottery ware.” In 1420 the Embassy sent by Shah Rukh to the Chinese Court mentions a buffet on which were arranged flagons, cups and goblets of silver and porcelain. The scribe also bears witness to the fact that “in the arts of stone-polishing, cabinet-making, pottery and brick-making, there is nobody with us who can compare with the Chinese.”

Early in the sixteenth century, before 1520, A. Pigapheta made a voyage to the East. He describes a visit to the house of the Queen of Mindanao: “I sat down by the side of her; she was weaving a palm mat to sleep upon. Throughout her house was seen porcelain 206vases suspended to the walls and four metal timbals.” He tells us that in Borneo, at Bruni: “For one cathil (a weight equal to two of our pounds) of quicksilver they gave us six porcelain dishes; for a cathil of metal they gave one small porcelain vase, and a large vase for three knives.... The merchandise which is most esteemed here is bronze, quicksilver, cinnabar, glass, woollen stuffs, linens; but above all they esteem iron and spectacles.

“Since I saw such use made of porcelain I got some information respecting it, and I learned that it is made with a kind of very white earth, which is left underground for fully fifty years to refine it, so that they are in the habit of saying that a father buries it for his son. It is said that if poison is put into a vessel of fine porcelain it breaks immediately.”

It is generally supposed that the table service, even among the rich, was very limited during the sixteenth century. A careful search of the inventories, however, shows that a complete service of faïence was to be found on the tables of the opulent in the first half of the sixteenth century. In 1532, we find that the widow of a minister of Francis I had two complete services of beautiful faïence: one entirely white, and the other “historied” with all kinds of coloured portraits. These two services were composed each of four dozen large and three dozen small plates, four aiguières, three round and one oval basin, three salts (sallières), eight pots, twelve tazzi, and three dozen spoons, some of ivory and some of wood and mother-of-pearl, “which we used in summer and autumn in serving collations of confitures, 207junkets, custards, syllabubs, fruits and cider to the great ladies who came to visit my daughters and myself; and in addition I have also many other vessels of the best pottery of Italy, Germany, Flanders, England and Spain.”

Besides the above, this lady possessed forty-two vases, pots, tazzi and plaques of porcelain “of the earliest days when Europeans went to China, which are of a beautiful white, and decorated with all kinds of little paintings.” The owner, who had evidently read Pigapheta, adds that the makers did not profit in their own lifetime by the manufacture of this “ravissante” porcelain, because it had to be buried in the earth for a century in order to come to perfection. Another reason why it should be prized is that it is “so healthy that if it is soiled with poison by evil doers who want to injure anybody, it will immediately fall to pieces rather than suffer the vile draughts with which people would ravage our entrails.”

At this date, the Oriental wares had not yet supplanted those that came through Turkey, Asia Minor and Egypt by way of Venice and other Italian ports. Among the lady’s possessions we find twenty-eight vases, pots, cups and little earthenware bowls of Turkish work, decorated on the necks and handles with little tufts resembling horses’ tails.

She also had four hundred beautiful glasses of all colours, and other Venetian crystal vessels, “adorned with the gayest fancies that the glass-blowers were capable of inventing, with which we delighted the eyes of royalty and the great ministers of state at the great entertainments we gave.”

208After Portuguese navigators had found the route to the East around the Cape of Good Hope, they were able to outstrip Venice as a sea-carrier for Eastern merchandise. The Levant trade, with its costly loading and unloading from caravan to ship, could not hope to compete with an all-sea route, and therefore the Portuguese soon acquired a practical monopoly of the traffic between Western Europe and Eastern Asia.[6] Lisbon became the great mart whence lacquer, porcelain and other wares were distributed throughout Europe. Dutch ships swarmed in the Tagus, and transferred Oriental merchandise to Amsterdam and other European ports.

6.  We know that much porcelain was brought into Europe through Venice from the Levant long after the Portuguese were dominant in the Eastern seas. As late as 1623, in Minshen’s Spanish dialogues, China metiall is defined as “the fine dishes of earth painted, such as are brought from Venice.”

The Vicomte de Santarem assures us that from 1497 to 1521 from Lisbon alone the Portuguese despatched thirty-three fleets, composed of 220 ships; and a fleet was despatched every year till the next century. The fleet of 1604 even consisted of five ships. Two carvels also sailed the same year.

We learn what these great ships were like from Pyrard de Laval (1601), who wrote:

“Three or four Portuguese ships at most go out every year; these are the carracks, called by them naos de voyage, which are sent out with the intention that they shall return if they can....

“The carracks are all built at Lisbon ... they are ordinarily of 1,500 to 2,000 tons burden. Sometimes more, so that they are the largest vessels in the world 209so far as I have been able to learn; they cannot float in less than ten fathoms of water.

“These great carracks have four decks, on each of which a man, however tall, can walk without touching his head against the deck above: indeed, he comes not within two feet of it.

“The ships leaving Goa are laden not only with silver, but with divers goods of Europe, such as wines, woollen fabrics, and among others red scarlet; all sorts of glass and crystal wares, clocks which are highly prized by the Chinese, much cotton cloth, precious stones cut and set in rings, chains, carkanets, tokens, ear-pendants and bracelets; for the Chinese like vastly to get gems and jewels of all sorts for their wives. The ships leave Goa towards October, and touch at Cochin for precious stones and spices, such as pepper and cinnamon, leaving there the merchandise of Europe or of the northern parts of India. Thence they sail for Malaca; for they cannot make this voyage without touching at Malaca in order to get the Governor’s passport, and also to purchase the merchandise of the islands of Sunda in exchange for cotton cloths and other goods of India and Europe.

“Vessels making the voyage from Goa to Japan and back may reckon on taking three whole years; nor can they reckon on less by reason of the winds called by them Monssons and by us Muesons, which prevail for six months and more. From Malaca they go to Macao, and thence to Japan. At all these places they must await the Muesons; in the meantime while waiting they carry on their trade. At Macao they leave the greater 210part of their goods, and all their silver, relading with other goods of China, such as silks and Spanish white ... it is dear, and much in request in Japan, where all the women whiten the whole body with it, even down to the legs. This white comes from the island of Borneo, whence it is carried to China. Then they carry to Japan all those China goods and some others from Europe and India, which they sell exceeding well; they bring back only silver, which they get cheap, and return to Macao to resell all their silver, exchanging it for other merchandise. They make a long sojourn in all those places, and then return to Malaca, where they must call; there they make another exchange of goods for those of Malaca and the islands of Sunda. Thence they return to Goa, or whatever other place the master of the ship belongs to.”

In Goa, “They have no glasses, except what are brought from these parts or from Persia, and that is but little, and, moreover, not much esteemed, as they get the porcelaines of China at small cost.

“The Maldives take their food so nicely that they spill nothing, not even a drop of water, though they wash the mouth before and after dinner in basins served on purpose. The vessel used is of earthenware, like that of Fayance, fashioned in the native style, and imported from Cambaye; or else it is of China porcelain, which is very common and used by almost all. But they use not any plate of earthenware, or of porcelain, saving one kind of round box, polished and lacquered, with a cover of the same; it is manufactured in the island....

211“His (the King’s) plate is neither gold nor silver, for that is forbidden by their law, but of porcelain or of other China fabric.

“It is impossible to tell all the great riches and all the rare and beautiful things which the ships bring back; among others they bring much gold in ingots. Some gold also they have in leaf and some in dust; also great store of gilded woodwork, such as all sorts of vessels and furniture lacquered, varnished and gilded with a thousand pretty designs; then all kinds of silk stuffs, good store of unwrought silk, great quantities of musk and civet, plenty of the metal called calin,[7] which is much esteemed over all the Indies, and even in Persia and elsewhere.... Of this metal they make all their utensils and ornaments as we do have of silver and tin; they even use it for rings and bracelets for girls and children. They import also from thence much porcelain ware, which is used throughout India as well by the Portuguese as by the Indians. Besides all this, many boxes, plates and baskets made of little reeds covered with lacquer and varnished in all colours, gilded and patterned. Among other things I should mention a great number of cabinets of all patterns in the fashion of those of Germany. This is an article the most perfect and of the finest workmanship to be seen anywhere; for they are all of choice woods and inlaid with ivory, mother-of-pearl and precious stones; in place of iron they are mounted with gold. The Portuguese call them Escritorios de la Chine.”

7.  Malayan tin.

J. G. Mendoza was another traveller who gave Europe 212the results of his observations of Portuguese activities in the Far East, and helped to stimulate a popular taste for porcelain. His book was translated into English in 1588, by R. Parke. Among other interesting information he tells us:

“There be also shops full of earthen vessels of divers making, redde, greene, yellow, and gilt; it is so good cheepe that for foure rials of plate they give fiftie pieces: very strong earth, the which they doo breake all to pieces and grinde it and put it into sesternes with water, made of lime and stone; and after that they have well tumbled and tossed it in the water, of the creame that is upon it they make the finest sort of them, and the lower they go, spending that substance that is the courser: they make them of what colour they please, the which will never be lost: then they put them into their killes and burne them. This has beene seene and is of a truth, as appeareth in a booke set forth in the Italian tongue by Duardo Banbosa,[8] that they do make them of periwinkle shelles of the sea: the which they do grinde and put them under the ground to refine them, whereas they lie 100 years. But if that were true, they should not make so great a number of them as is made in that kingdome, and is brought into Portugall, and carried into the Peru, and Nova Espania, and into other parts of the world.... And the Chinos do agree for this to be true. The finest sort of this is never carried out of the countrie, for that it is spent in the service of the king, and his governours, and is so fine and deere, that it seemeth to be of fine and perfite cristal: that which is 213made in the province of Saxie is the best and finest....

8.  1520.

“The fine earthen dishes that are in this countrie cannot be declared without many wordes. But that which is brought from thence into Spaine is verie course; although, unto them that hath not seene the finer sort, it seemeth excellent good; but they have such with them, that a cubbard thereof amongest us would be esteemed as though it were of golde. The finest cannot be brought forth of the kingdome upon paine of death; neyther can any have the use thereof, but onely the loytias, which be there gentlemen.”

The glowing accounts of the riches of Ind and Far Cathay brought home by the early voyagers naturally fired the imagination and cupidity of Dutch, English and French merchants and adventurers, who said to one another: “We too will go to the hills of the Chankley Bore”; and every potentate in Europe connived at their subjects’ efforts to trespass on the King of Portugal’s Tom Tiddler’s Ground.

Independent efforts had been made by the English to get a share of the riches of the East long before the Dutch and English East India companies were formed. In 1560, the Portuguese ambassador exhibited articles for restraining the traffic of English merchants in the Indies. In 1566, “Dr. Lewes takes bonds of George Fenner not to spoil any of the Queen’s subjects, nor to traffic into India, or any other places privileged by the King of Spain.” About the same date, the merchants petitioned “for reopening the trade with Portugal suspended in consequence of the irregular trade of some Englishmen to the Indies.”

214Instances of poaching and piracy in Portuguese preserves might be multiplied, but three will suffice. In 1598, Cecil receives a report from a Lisbon agent that, “On August 1st, three carracks arrived from India and one was burnt there full laden. They bring news that two English ships in India have taken two Portugal ships, rich with treasure, that were on their voyage from Goa to Chine.” And again, on October 16, 1601, Sir John Gilbert writes to Cecil: “My ship ... has brought home silks, having taken a Brazil vessel with porcelain and other wares.”

Elizabeth’s luxurious ministers had choice collections of porcelain richly mounted in precious metal, from which they sometimes offered her presents. For instance, among her New Year’s gifts in 1588, we find: “One porrynger of white porselyn, garnished with golde, the cover of golde, with a lyon on the toppe thereof; all given by the Lord Threasorour, 38 oz. Item, one cup of green pursselyne, the foot, shanke and cover silver guilte chased like droppes. Given by Mr. Robert Cecill, 15 oz. Item, one cup of pursseline, th’ one side paynted red, the foote and cover sylver guilte. Given by Mr. Lychfelde, 14 oz.”

It is natural that from the fact that the Portuguese had the monopoly of the East Indian trade, the finest examples of Oriental workmanship should be found in Portugal and Spain, Lisbon being the entrepôt of European distribution. The Spanish dominions in the Low Countries were well supplied with these wares by the Dutch mariners.

During the sixteenth century, the Dutch were already 215famed as sea-carriers (rouliers des mers). With Lisbon as a base of supplies, they soon destroyed the monopoly of the trade in Oriental wares which Venice had so long enjoyed. When Philip II annexed Portugal in 1580, however, he naturally sought to take revenge on his rebellious subjects of the Low Countries by closing against them the ports of the Iberian peninsula.

Finding that their profits from the trade with the East Indies were thus practically extinguished, their only course was to go to those distant lands themselves. How to get there was the question; and this was a secret which the Portuguese navigators had carefully guarded. The Dutch knew that they were reached by some southern route which could only be traversed by force of arms, but thought that the lands where one might “swim in golden lard” might be reached by a north-east passage. Dutch ships vainly attempted this in 1594 and 1596, being barred by the ice. In the meantime, Corneliz Houtman had managed to buy some Portuguese charts, and thus to learn the real route around the Cape. He induced ten merchants of Amsterdam to form a “Foreign Company” (van verre) and send out a sort of exploring expedition. This first attempt was made on no lavish scale. The ships could not hope to fight the mighty Portuguese armed carracks. The four ships of this first voyage were the Maurice, 400 tons; the Amsterdam, 200 tons; the Dove, 30 tons; and the Holland, 400 tons.

They left Texel early in April, 1595, and arrived home in August, 1597. Their glowing reports encouraged the despatch of a second flotilla of eight ships in 2161598, four of which went to the Moluccas and the rest no farther than Bantam, returning with rich cargoes of spices and other merchandise. Several other companies were started in consequence, but in 1602 they were all consolidated with a capital of 6,440,000 florins, and the Dutch East India Company was established.

The Dutch navigators and travellers who sailed the Vanderdecken course to the Spice Islands, naturally, on their return, gave their fellow-countrymen a full account of the wealth and curiosities of art they had witnessed in India, Polynesia, China and Japan. Two or three of these, not being foreign to our subject, may be quoted here. The Netherland East India Company sent an embassy to the Emperor of China in 1655, and the reporter was evidently most interested in supplying his fellow-countrymen with the secrets of the manufacture of porcelain, which the Dutch were trying to imitate with their delft ware. He says:

“Upon the 25th of April we came to a village famous for shipping called Ucienjen, where lay great store of vessels of several sorts and sizes, which were come thither from all parts of China, to lade with China earthenware, whereof great store is sold in this village.... Quite through the middle of this rich village rims a broad street, full of shops on both sides, where all manner of commodities are sold; but the chiefest trade is in Purceline, or China dishes, which is to be had there in great abundance....

“The earth whereof this porcelain is made, is digged in great quantity out of the mountains situated near the chief city Hoei-cheu, in the province of Nanking, 217from whence it is brought in four-square clods to the above-mentioned village, which have the Emperor’s arms stamped upon them to prevent all manner of deceit. The earth is not fat, like clay, or chalk, but like to our fine sand, which they mingle with water, and so make it into four-square clods. They likewise beat and powder the broken China dishes, and make new ones of them; (but such as are made of broken ware never take so fine colour and gloss as those which are made of fresh mould.) The earthen clods which are thus brought from the mountains are afterwards framed into what fashions they please, after the same manner as our potters in Europe form their earthenware. Upon the great pots which are made of this earth, they have an art to themselves to paint all manner of creatures, flowers and trees, which they do very curiously only with Indico. This art of painting upon the pots is kept so private and secret that they will not teach it to any but to their children and near relations, wherein the Chineses are so dexterous that you cannot show them anything, but they will imitate it upon their pots and dishes, which being framed and made of this earth, are first dryed in the Sun before they are baked in the oven; and when they are thoroughly dryed, they are put into an oven and stopt very close, where they bake for fifteen days together with a good fire under: the time being out, they are continued in the oven fifteen days more without any fire; however the oven all that while is kept close stopt, and not opened till it be quite cold; for if they should take their earthenware red-hot out of the oven, it would endanger the breaking 218and losing their gloss. After the expiration of thirty days, the furnace is opened in the presence of an officer appointed by the Emperor to take an account of this earthenware, and to receive the Emperor’s duty which is of such sort the fifth piece, according to the laws of the kingdom; the rest they afterwards sell to the inhabitants of this village, Ucienjen, where (as they say) is the staple of this Purceline trade, which is sent from this village, not only through all China, but also through the whole world.”

From Samedo’s History of China, we learn:

“They have altogether relinquished to Europe to be served in plate, there being scarce found among them a vessel of silver of a considerable bigness, no not in the Emperor’s palace, being content to eat in porcelain, which is the only vessel in the world for neat and delightful cleanliness.... Kiamsi is famous for the Porcellane dishes (indeed the only work in the world of this kind) which are made only in one of its towns: so that all that is used in the kingdom, and dispersed through the whole world, are brought from this place: although the earth whereof they are made cometh from another place: but there only is the water, wherewith precisely they are to be wrought to come to their perfection, for if they be wrought with other water the work will not have so much glosse and lustre. In this worke there are not those mysteries that are reported of it here, neither in the matter, the form nor the manner of working; they are made absolutely of earth, but of a neat and excellent quality. They are made in the same time, and the same manner, as our earthen vessels; only 219they make them with more diligence and accuratenesse. The blew, wherewith they paint the porcellane, is anill, whereof they have abundance, some do paint them with vermilion, and (for the king) with yellow.”

The same traveller also notes: “The workmanship of Europe which they most admired were our clocks, but now they make of them such as are set upon tables, very good ones.”

A Jesuit father, writing from China in 1688, sheds further light on the wares that were made there and prized in Europe. He says in part:

“As for porcelain, it is such an ordinary moveable, that it is the ornament of every house; the tables, the sideboards, nay, the kitchen is cumber’d with it, for they eat and drink out of it, it is their ordinary vessel. There is likewise made huge flower-pots of it. The very architects cover roofs and make use of it sometimes to incrustate marble buildings.

“Amongst those that are most in request, there are of three different colours; some are yellow, yet though the earth be very fine, they appear more coarse than the others; and the reason is, because that colour does not admit of so fine polishing; it is used in the Emperor’s palace. Yellow is his own proper colour, which is not allowed to any person to bear; so that one may safely say, that as for the business of porcelain, the Emperor is the worst served.

“The second sort is of a grey colour, with abundance of small irregular lines in it, that cross one another, as if the vessel was all over striped, or wrought with inlaid or mosaic work. I cannot imagine how they form 220these figures, for I have much ado to believe that they are able to draw them with a pencil. However it is, these sort of vases partake of a particular beauty; and sure I am, the curious amongst us would much value them.

“Last of all, the third sort of porcelain is white, with divers figures of flowers, trees and birds, which they paint in blue, such as come hither into Europe. This is the commonest of all, and everybody uses it.”

The minute descriptions of the manufacture and varieties of porcelain furnished by Dutch and other travellers must not be charged up to an artistic appreciation exclusively. The Dutch were very much in earnest in their efforts to manufacture a home product which might compete with the foreign. As we have seen, Dutch pottery had already attained a high reputation, and was much sought after in foreign markets; and now, with the influx of porcelain, the Guilds strained every nerve to meet the demand.

The manufacture of delft began at the end of the sixteenth century with Hermann Pietersz, a native of Haarlem. In the first days of its existence, the style of decoration was rather complicated, for the subjects representing kermesses, combats, etc., were designed en camaïeu. In order to sell a piece of pottery, the potter had to belong to the Guild of St. Luke. The Delft Guild of St. Luke was established in 1611 and included all the skilled workmen in the arts and crafts: (1) painters; (2) stainers of glass, engravers and glass-makers; (3) potters; (4) embroiderers and weavers of tapestry; (5) sculptors and carvers; (6) sheath or 221scabbard-makers; (7) art-printers and booksellers; and (8) engravers and dealers in paintings.

In the second half of the seventeenth century, particularly under the influence of Abraham de Kooge (1632) and Albrecht de Keizer (1642), the Delft potters began to imitate the Oriental products in both modelling and decoration. De Kooge was famous for his landscapes and portraits with names and dates—all in blue; but de Keizer, who was the precursor of the celebrated Cornelis de Keizer and the two Pynackers, also produced coloured ware in imitation of the Chinese and Japanese. Other followers were: Pieter Oesterham, who devoted himself chiefly to landscapes and national portraits; Frederick van Frytom, who was particularly fond of blue camaïeu: Gerrit Pietersz, who delighted in elephants and Chinese subjects; and Augustijn Reygensbergh, who made fine imitations of Chinese and Japanese ware in red, blue and gold. Lowys Fictoor (1689) and Lambertus Eenhoorn (1691) were famous for their black delft, with wonderful glaze and ornamented in the Chinese style with pagodas and trees in yellow and green; Lucas van Dale, for his olive-brown decorated with yellow; Leonard van Amsterdam, for figures, small landscapes and shipping scenes painted in colours on the backs of brushes as well as small dishes; and Verhagen sought the prints of Goltzius. Among other celebrated potters of this period are the names of two other Eenhoorns, five Kams, four Van der Hoevens, and two Dextras. The many factories of Delft were known under fanciful names, such as The Rose, The Star, The Peacock, The Claw, The Three Bells, etc., etc. 222Delft ware declined about the end of the seventeenth century.

The European potters did not gain a clear and sane understanding of the composition and manufacture of porcelain till the last years of the reign of Louis XIV, when d’Entrecolles, a Jesuit father, sent home a full report of the mystery. A few extracts from his letter will be extremely illuminating on certain points relating to European trade and Chinese guile:

“As for the colours of the porcelain, they are of all kinds. In Europe, scarcely any are to be seen but those that have a strong blue on a white ground. I believe, however, that our merchants have brought others in. There are some with grounds like our miroirs ardents; some again are entirely red, and amongst these some are dotted with little points like our mignatures. When these are perfect, which is very hard to attain, they are infinitely esteemed and extremely dear.

“Finally there are porcelains in which the landscapes painted on them are made up of almost every colour and relieved by gold. They are very beautiful, if we judge by their cost: otherwise the ordinary porcelain of this kind is not comparable to that painted with azure alone.... Black porcelain has also its own price and beauty.... The gold that is applied to it, gives it a novel charm....

“Here also is made another species that I had never yet seen: it is all pierced and cut-work: in the centre is a cup to contain liquor. The cup is in the same piece and forms a part of the cut-work. I have seen other porcelains in which Chinese and Tartar ladies were 223painted to the life. The draperies, the complexion and features of the faces were all well rendered. From a distance you would take this work for enamel.

“The Chinese complain of a lost secret: they once had the art of painting on the insides of porcelains fishes and animals that only became visible when the vessels were filled with some liquid. They try from time to time to recover the art of this magic painting, but in vain.... However that may be, we may say that at the present day the beautiful blue has been revived on porcelain after having disappeared from it....

“The Chinese chiefly succeed in grotesques and the representations of animals. They make ducks and turtles that float upon the water. I have seen a cat painted to the life. In its head had been put a little lamp the flame of which shone through the eyes, and I was assured that rats were terrified at it. They also make here many statues of Kouan in, a Chinese goddess, with an infant in her arms.

“European merchants often order from the Chinese workers porcelain plaques to form the top of a table, or back of a chair, or frame of a picture. These works are impossible: the greatest length and width of a plate is about one foot. If they are made larger than that, no matter how thick, they bend.... The history of King te ching speaks of divers works ordered by Emperors that workmen tried vainly to execute.... The Mandarins of this province presented a petition to the Emperor begging him to have the attempts cease.... However, the Mandarins who know how ingenious Europeans are in invention, have sometimes asked me 224to have new and curious designs sent from Europe in order to have something singular made for presentation to the Emperor. On the other hand, the Christians strongly urged me not to procure such models, for the Mandarins are not so readily satisfied as our merchants are when the workmen tell them that a work is impracticable; and frequently the bastinado is liberally bestowed before the Mandarin abandons a design from which he has promised himself great advantages.

“We should not be astonished that porcelain is so dear in Europe: we shall be still less so when we learn that besides the great profits taken by the European merchants and by their Chinese agents, it is rarely that a baking is entirely successful; sometimes indeed it is a total failure. Thus for one workman who grows rich, there are a hundred ruined; but this does not deter them from tempting Fortune.... Moreover, the porcelain that is sent to Europe is almost always made on new and often strange models in which success is difficult. However slight the blemishes may be it is rejected by the Europeans, who will not take any but perfect pieces; so that it remains in the hands of the workmen, who are not able to sell it to the Chinese because it is not to their taste. The consequence is that the pieces that are taken bear the additional charge of those that are rejected.

“According to the history of King te ching, the profits were formerly much greater than they are now. It is hard to believe this, for there must then have been a great sale of porcelain in Europe. I have said that the difficulty in executing certain models sent from 225Europe is one of the causes of the excessive price of porcelain, for it must not be imagined that the workmen can work on all the models that reach them from foreign countries. There are some impracticable ones in China, just as there are some made that astonish foreigners who would not think them possible.”

The price of china-ware fluctuated considerably during the seventeenth century. Sometimes a critic complained, as above, that values had greatly appreciated because of the demand, and then again others wailed that the enormous importations had driven prices down till the game was not worth the candle. In Mendelslo’s Voyages (1639), we read:

“The Chinese bring to the island of Java porcelain which they sell there very cheaply: for when boats arrive from China they buy six porcelain dishes for a thousand caxas (a string of two hundred caxas are called sata and are worth about nine deniers of French money, and five satas tied together make a sapocon).”

Again, from Recueil des Voyages (Constant) we learn:

“The (Chinese) ships also bring (to Java) fine and coarse porcelain. When the Dutch first arrived, they bought five or six dishes of both kinds for 1,000 caxas, but afterwards they got no more than two or three, rarely more.

“For return freight, they take, besides pepper, all the lacca brought from the city of Tolonbaon, where there is great abundance. They also load with the anil[9] that comes from Anier in pots; sandal wood, musk and tortoiseshell, with which in China they make 226beautifully wrought coffres; elephant tusks, with which they make beautiful seats that are esteemed as much as if they were of silver, and that are used by Mandarins and Viceroys.”

9.  A species of indigo.

The importations were indeed enormous, as the bills of lading of the Dutch vessels prove. For example, among the cargoes of eleven Dutch ships that arrived in Holland from the East Indies in July, 1664, were 44,943 pieces of very rare Japanese porcelain and 101 Japan cabinets. The eleven ships that left Batavia on December 24 of the same year, brought home 16,580 pieces of porcelain of divers kinds.

The Dutch brought to Europe such vast quantities of porcelain in the first quarter of the seventeenth century as practically to monopolize the trade and undersell the English. Thus, Methwold, writing from Masulipatam to the East India Company in 1619, says: “The great profit first obtained on porcelain has filled all men’s hands with plenty (by the Dutch), which makes theirs (the East India Company’s) not sought after.”

Turning now, for a moment, to tea, we find that it made its way into public favour somewhat slowly—far more so than porcelain. It was known to the Dutch before 1600, but was not in general use till half a century later.

J. H. van Linschoten, describing the manners and customs of the Island Japan (1598), says:

“After their meat, they use a certain drinke, which is a pot with hote water, which they drinke as hote as ever they may indure, whether it be Winter or Summer ... and the gentlemen make it themselves; and 227when they will entertaine any of their friends, they give him some of that warme water to drinke: for the pots wherein they seeth it, and wherein the herb is kept, with the earthen cups which they drinke it in, they esteeme as much of them as we doe of diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones, and they are not esteemed for their newnes, but for their oldnes, and for that they were made by a good workman: and to know and keepe such by themselves, they take great and special care, as also of such as are the valuers of them, and are skilful in them.... So if their pots and cups be of an old and excellent workman’s making, they are worth four or five thousand ducats or more the peece. The King of Bungo did give for such a pot, having three feet, fourteen thousand ducats, and a Japan, being a Christian in the town of Sacay, gave for such a pot fourteen hundred ducats, and yet it had three pieces upon it.”

As late as 1639, Mendelslo thought it worth while describing again. He says in his Voyages:

“The Japanese bray the tea as fine as powder, and taking a little on the point of a knife put it in a porcelain or earthenware cup filled with boiling water.... They have no more luxurious articles of furniture than belong to this service: teapots have been seen that cost twenty-eight thousand crowns.”

The use of tea became common among the well-to-do and fashionable classes from 1660 to 1680. Every house had a special tea-room fitted up, and even the burghers had their tea-offices, or drank tea in the front room or voorhuis; for the social tea always took place in the front part of the house. The tea-room was furnished 228like a reception-room, the important pieces of furniture being the tea-buffet and the tea-table. “A corner tea-buffet of costly wood” is mentioned in the inventory of Develstein, while other inventories mention “properly inlaid Chinese lacquered tea-tables mounted with silver and mother-of-pearl,” also fir-wood and oak tables and tables with drop leaves. On the tea-table the porcelain was displayed. This was bordered with gold or silver, or was a blue Chinese or a coloured Japanese set with the “waffle-mark,” or the six marks of the “Long Eliza,” “the cuckoo out of the house” and “the cuckoo into the house,” and all kinds of red and gold, ribbed or plain porcelain. A complete tea-set included large and small teapots, large and small cups with and without covers, sugar basins, pastry dishes with a small golden fork, and saffron pots. These little pots and dishes were of different shapes; and we should note that there were a double set of teapots—one in which the tea was drawn and the other into which it was poured, to be poured out into the cups in turn. Sometimes these pots were curiously shaped with open or basket sides, the spout formed like the head of a bird or animal, while others carried inscriptions or coats-of-arms, and the top of the lid bore some grotesque fowl, bird or ornament. Square teapots profusely decorated with gold paint were very costly. The teacups were also gaily decorated. An exhibition in Delft in 1863 showed thirty famous designs of cups and saucers.

If we were to enter a fashionable tea-room of the seventeenth century, we should find ourselves in the front of the house in a room furnished according to the 229rank and means of the proprietor. Rich or poor, it is always exquisitely clean. As carpets and rugs are not common, the floor is covered with bright mats, and the walls are either whitewashed, or encased in blue and white tiles. Upon them hang pictures, more or less valuable. The round table and the chairs are of sacredaan wood, and the latter are furnished with cushions of Utrecht velvet. The chimney-piece is ornamented with Chinese knickknacks that will interest the visitor for several hours, and on either side of it are two oak cupboards inlaid with ebony. Facing the chimney stands the china-cabinet with its fragile treasures, the vrouw’s idol, the object of her tenderest care.

The guests usually arrived between two and three in the afternoon, and were received and extended many formalities peculiar to the occasion. Unless it rained, no cloak or wrap was worn, so the guests were received in the tea-room at once and immediately seated themselves, resting their feet—winter or summer—on a foot-warmer. The hostess takes a sample of tea from her many tea-caddies, each filled with a different kind of tea, and puts them into a different pot, each pot having a little silver strainer in the spout. When the tea is drawn, she fills the smallest cup with a sample from each pot and hands these tiny cups to her friends, so that they may discover what kind they prefer. One prefers this, and one prefers another; but, as a rule, the choice is left to the hostess. Now the tea-making begins in earnest. According to the number of guests, the hostess takes a single or double teapot, and from a larger caddy the tea that has been chosen. While this is being drawn, 230she takes some saffron, and infuses this in a small red pot, and serves the tea and saffron in a covered cup, so that none of the sweetness nor aroma shall be wasted. In spring the saffron is discarded in favour of young peach leaves. The tea is sweetened to taste, but milk is never served until 1680, when it is used in imitation of the French; for the idea of milk in tea originated with the Marchioness de la Sablière. The conversation at these gatherings turned on tea and general gossip.

The tea-table was of great importance in social life. Even poets sang its praises in Holland, as they did in England. A picturesque stanza from a Dutch poet is worth quoting:

In ’t midden van de zaal daar stond een gueridon,
Op ’t zelve een keteltje, zo blank gelijk een zon.
’t Trekpotje was bekleed met zuiver zilverlaken,
Opdat geen vogt het goud van ’t lofwerk zou mismaaken
Waar meed het was beleid; de schoteltjes in ’t rond
Van onder net beplakt met zagte stukjes bont,
Uit vrees dat ’t porcelein het lakwerk mogte schaaren,
Van ’t lief japansche-blad, ’t geen ruste op drie pylaaren
Van sakredaan, kaneel en pik-zwart ebbenhout.
Het schenken van de thee werd juffrouw Rois vertrouwt,
Die evenwigtig thee met water wist te mengen.
(In the middle of the hall there stood a table
Upon which was a small kettle, bright as the sun.
The teapot was covered with pure silver cloth
So that no liquid would deface the gold from the ornamentation
With which it was covered; the small saucers around it
Pasted underneath with soft furry cloth, so that
The porcelains might not scratch the lacquer
From the pretty Japanese tray, which rested on a tripod
Of sacredaan, cinnamon and jet-black ebony.
The pouring of the tea was trusted to Miss Rois,
Who knew how to mix tea and water properly.)

Thus we see that the tea-table was firmly established as a social institution in Holland by the middle of the seventeenth century, and porcelain was an important 231factor in interior decoration long before Dutch William drove the Stuarts out of England. A Dutch inventory of the time of the Glorious Revolution (1689) is worth citation for the sake of illustrating the prevailing taste and the price of porcelain of the day:

Statement and inventory of the contents and the goods of Dirck van Kessel and Chrestina de Ridder, left without owner by the aforesaid Chrestina de Ridder by her death on the 15th of January of this year 1689

In the Porcelain Room.
Two porcelain “beguine” pots 150
One porcelain chamber-pot with cover 6
One porcelain box, without cover 6
Three porcelain preserve pots 120
Four large porcelain bowls 30
One high pyramidal shaped water jug 12
Two porcelain fruit dishes 15
A jug with a silver lid 10
A porcelain box with lid 12
One porcelain cover 10
One porcelain pot with handles 4
Two porcelain crackle bowls 10
Four porcelain boxes 10
A little stewing pot 10
Two porcelain teapots 6
One porcelain sexagonal pot 20
Two porcelain printed oil pots 10
One porcelain stewing pan coloured, without cover 18
One porcelain apple pot 30
Two porcelain crackle jars (one broken) 15
Two long porcelain boxes 5
Two porcelain “beguine” pots 30
Four porcelain boxes with covers 15
Four butter dishes 6
Twenty-four porcelain teacups with covers 48
An East India box with a bamboo 10
Thirteen (with inside decoration) 13
Two porcelain bottles with French flowers 60
Five porcelain butter dishes on the back yellow and green 10
Thirteen coloured tea-saucers (one broken) 8
Two porcelain cups with knobs on the covers 6
Three large East India teapots 24
Four little East India teapots 6
Four old porcelain stewing pots 40
Five old long shaped bottles, one of which is in pieces 30
232Four porcelain boxes that can be shut (with covers) 20
Eleven little porcelain pieces 5
Two little candlesticks with extinguishers 16
Two round shaped oblong bottles, one of which is in pieces 15
Three porcelain small plaques 8
Six porcelain dinner plates 12
Eight porcelain printed red dishes 12
Two pots with Chinese acrobats 18
Two pots with French scrolls 24
Two old porcelain bottles with a cover 15
Four porcelain pots with overlapping covers 48
Five porcelain swans 5
Eighteen porcelain cups, red, with one blue 12
Forty porcelain yellow cups 12
Four porcelain slop basins 12
Fifty porcelain coffee saucers 30
Three porcelain sexagonal pin-trays 8
Five porcelain pieces, red and blue 3
Two old inscription bowls 16
Two porcelain bowls with birds on branches 20
One porcelain rosemary bowl 8
Three porcelain coloured starch basins 6
One porcelain “beguine” pot with a delft cover 16
One porcelain sexagonal pot 10
One porcelain chain pot 10
One porcelain pot with a bottle 8
One porcelain bottle with Chinese 30
One porcelain “beguine” pot, with handles 30
One porcelain four-square “beguine” pot 6
Three Persian basins 8
Seven porcelain butter dishes 21
One porcelain, broken, open-work tray 2
Three porcelain mustard pots, with a perforated cover 8
Eight candlesticks  
Two porcelain butter dishes 21
One porcelain slop basin, one starch basin, and one crackle jar 5
Six porcelain printed cups 8
Three porcelain printed saucers 4
Twenty-one porcelain printed coffee cups 10
Ten coloured East India tea-saucers, cups with ducks painted on them 20
Two Japanese beakers 50
One East India beaker with Chinese letters 30
One East India beaker with pieces 12
One pot with a jardinière 20
One Chinese pot 30
China Closet near the Windows.
Five East India half-size wash basins 70
233Five East India basins 40
Five East India basins 50
Five East India basins 46
Three old porcelain dishes 30
Three double butter dishes 20
Three East India round dishes, in three parts, with flower pots 30
One East India round dish, in three parts, with flower pot and stork 12
One engraved tumbler 20
Seven porcelain crackle bowls 24
Two old porcelain pots 15
One porcelain beaker with a crack. 10
Twenty-four brown bottles 15
Four porcelain boxes with covers 12
One porcelain basin and mustard pot without cover 3
Two porcelain salt cellars, with two mustard pots 12
Twelve teacups and saucers 48
Four porcelain perforated cups 15
Six porcelain perforated cups 18
Six porcelain perforated cups  
Two East India slop basins with storks 10
Eight little old porcelain saucers 16
Six porcelain saucers with dragons 12
Six old porcelain saucers with frogs 18
Nine old porcelain saucers with handles 36
Two slop bowls 6
Six old porcelain cups 6
Two porcelain crackle bottles 30
Three porcelain breakers 30
Three old porcelain dishes in three parts 10
Five old porcelain mustard holders 18
Seven old porcelain mustard holders 10
Five great deep saucers 20
Two porcelain blue bowls 12
Two porcelain blue small bottles 3
One porcelain new dish 4
Two porcelain butter dishes 8
Six porcelain butter dishes 15
Three porcelain butter dishes 6
Six porcelain deep saucers 12
One hundred teacups and saucers. 200
One East India mat with three Chinese figures 4
Upstairs in the Front Room.
Three pestles with flowers 40
Two printed cups 2
Upstairs in the Rear Room.
Two “beguine” pots with landscapes 70
One East India “beguine” pot with Chinese 16
Two printed small bottes 40
234Two small bottles with Chinese 25
Six teacups and saucers 15
One bottle with a small bird on a tree 10
Three butter dishes 20
Six little old small bottles 8
Six little old boxes with covers 8
Two teacups 6
Six dragon cups 6
Three flat saucers 4
Four coloured ribbed dishes or saucers 6
Six teacups and tea-saucers 15
Six dishes with a box cover 8
Two small baskets and two shelves 6
The porcelain on the shelves 12
In the Vestibule.
The porcelain in the shop, comprising thirteen pieces 24
In the Porcelain Room.
Firstly, an olive wood carved cabinet 250
One gilt and engraved jewel casket 50
One olive wood table with stands 25

“Now follows a collection of large mirrors, which we consider of less importance. Of more interest is the following:

148 sheets and one half of gold leather, being white and gold, valued at 23 stuivers the sheet 170·15
The pine-apple with colours (decoration), 44 sheets, valued at 52·16
61 sheets, the unicorn green and gold 70
80 sheets of gold leather 40
42 ditto 42
1 lot of remnants, leather 30
1 lot of patterns and friezes 100
8 screens 130
2 curtains and balance and the gold leather that hangs in the kitchen in the rear 9

“Hereafter follows again some porcelain and other articles, as—

8 painted figures 40
2 broken roll wagons (round shaped bottles) 24
1 porcelain stewing pan 12
2 half-size wash basins 24
2 ditto 16
2 porcelain bowls 4
2356 porcelain cups with a broken wash jug and a broken roll wagon 4
1 delft stewing pot 4
6 gold leather chairs 20
1 clavecin 4
1 bundle of old gold leather 20
1 large cup engraved with a battle scene and a large cup with a vine 30”

The value of porcelain may be gathered from the pieces mentioned in the inventory of Joh. Gemeelenbrouck, “meester silversmith,” in 1653:

In the shop 48  
Four whole lamps    
Sixteen half lamps 56  
Sixteen round dishes in three parts 40  
Four double butter dishes 6  
Forty-five cornered butter dishes 33 15
One round shaped oblong bottle 6  
Five “beguine” pots 30  
Nine “beguine” pots (small) 22 10
Three drinking cups 4 10
Four drinking cups (small) 2 8
Three beakers 3 15
Three bottles 4  
Three large bottles 18  
Five mustard pots 3 15
Four wine cans 16  
Four chamber-pots 10  
Twenty-four parrot basins 24  
Forty-four cups and saucers 15 4
Two cups and saucers 2  
Four oil pots 2 8
Ten snuff boxes 10 10
Seventy-five mustard pots 29  
Twenty-five deep saucers 16  
Three boxes with lids 3  
Four deep saucers 2 8
Five red pots 0 15


Love of Porcelain—The Amsterdam Mart—Prices of China in 1615—Oriental Wares before 1520—Luxury of the Dutch Colonists—Rich Burghers in New Amsterdam—Inventories of Margarita van Varick and Jacob de Lange—Dutch Merchants in the East—Foreign Views of Dutch Luxury—Dutch Interiors after the Great and Little Masters—House-furnishing by a young married couple—The Linen Chest—Clothes Chests and Cupboards—The Great Kas—The Cabinet—The Toilet—Table-Covers—Foot-warmers—Looking-glasses—Bedsteads—Tables and Chairs—Woods—Kitchen Utensils—Silverware—Household Pets.

In the preceding chapter, we have seen the constantly increasing importance of porcelain in the Dutch home. In England there was quite as great a demand for this ware among the wealthy classes; but the London East India Company could not supply the demand, and the reason is not far to seek. The Dutch were more energetic, or, at least, more successful in ousting and supplanting the Portuguese, and the Stores of the Indies in Amsterdam became recognized as the headquarters of distribution of Oriental ceramics. In all probability, the English company was not able to import wares of such superior quality as were the Dutch. The Dutch made themselves masters in the Eastern Seas, and British trade had a hard uphill fight there for a century and a half. The Dutch carried things with a very high hand, and the laws of neither God nor man 238were respected on the course of Vanderdecken from Cape Verde to Japan. The massacre of a few inoffensive English traders at Amboyna aroused quite a coolness in England towards Holland, and caused a good deal of embarrassment to the Government early in the reign of Charles I, which was too busy with home affairs to insist on reparation. However, the Dutch were only carrying on the traditions of “the spacious times of great Elizabeth,” when the methods of the great navigators were frankly piratical. England became well acquainted with Eastern wares when Hawkins, Drake, or Cumberland sailed into Plymouth with the rich freight of Portuguese carracks which they had waylaid around the Azores.

The Dutch love of porcelain was very real: it appears in many a diary, letter and anecdote. In every home, the humble rectory and the house of the rich burgher-master alike, the same desire to own porcelain is found. When one Pastor Arnold Moonen was asked how much he would charge for his translation of Cicero’s Epistolæ ad familiares, he answered: “Mijnheer! Ik mij in geenen staet bevindende om iet voor mijnen arbeit te kunnen eischen, als diergelijken handel ongewoon, zal enelijk van UEd. verzoeke te voldoen, de raet van die vrouwe volgen, die de Heer mij tot een hulpe gegeven heeft. Deze eischt van mij een nooteboomen kabinet met een stelsel in porselein, als zijn toebehooren, om daarop te setten, zoo als de vrinden kunnen goetvinden.” (“Sir! not being in a position to charge anything for my labour, as this is not an habitual thing, I should take heed of my wife, whom the Lord hath given me for a helpmate. She 239wishes to possess a nutwood cabinet with a set of porcelain to go with it, and to place ornaments on the top, if the consistory will grant this!”) Such a set of porcelain as the good lady required to decorate the top and fill the shelves within, cost at that time as much as 300 double ducats (equal to about £136); but the ladies of that period had desires for fine furniture, dress and fashion that their husbands were often unable to gratify.

The best china-ware was obtainable in Amsterdam only, and English travellers used to buy porcelain there, as they now go to Brussels or Mechlin for lace or Cashmere for shawls. As late as the reign of Charles II, Holland maintained her pre-eminence in this trade. In Henry Sidney’s Diary, November 18, 1679 (on the eve of his departure for Holland) we read: “My sister Sunderland spoke to me for a China cup.” Later he notes: “I went to see the magazine, the East India Stores.”

We have already seen the prices of various kinds of porcelain in Holland in 1653 and 1689. It may be interesting to compare these with English prices earlier in the century. From the bill of lading of the Java (1615) we gather that the prime cost of porcelain was: “Saucer dishes, nearly 2d. a piece; flat sallet dishes, about 3½d.; sallet cups, 3½d.; posset dishes, 4d.; small (quarter) basins, 1s. 9d.; larger (half) basins, 2s. 6d.; largest (whole) basins, 5s.

This was evidently china-ware of the cheapest kind, and the prices show that porcelain was now on the market in such quantities as to drive out the old pewter plates and dishes from the homes of the middle classes as well 240as the aristocracy. During the first quarter of the seventeenth century, however, the Oriental wares to be found in opulent houses were by no means confined to china-ware. The art furniture brought from the East was varied and choice.

The inventory of a Dutch or English noble of wealth of that period shows the same taste for Eastern fabrics, lacquer and porcelain, and evidences the elegance that made Madame de Rambouillet famous in France. As an example, let us take the Earl of Northampton, who was famous and infamous in late Elizabethan and early Jacobean days. He died in 1619. Among his possessions we find the following goods of Oriental manufacture:

“A cupbord containynge seven parcels of purslane cups trimmed with silver and guilte valued at £12; a field bedstead of China worke, black and silver, branched with silver, with the Arms of the Earle of Northampton upon the headpiece, the toppe and valance of purple velvett striped downe with silver laces and knots of silver, the frindge blewe silk and silver with 8 cuppes and plumes spangled suteable, the five curtains of purple taffata with buttons and lace of silver, the counterpoint of purple damaske suteable laced; one China cushen imbrodred with birdes, beastes and flowers, the ground of white Grogeron lined with yellow taffeta, 10s.; thirteen yeardes and a quarter of purple gold velvett, China with flower-de-luces and diamond work, £8 13s. 4d.; a China striped quilt of beastes and antiques, the ground whice calico frindged about with a straw coloured frindge, £5; another China quilte stayned and spotted in colours 241£4; another China quilt stitched in checquer work with yellow silke, the ground white, £4; and a China carpett of several colours, the ground white and weaved in with antiques of several colours lined with watchett taffata, £4.

“A China guilte cabonett upon a frame, £1 10s.; a large square China worke table and frame of black vernishe and gold, £6; one faire crimson velvet chaire richlie imbosted with copper and spread eagles and blewe and white flowers China worke, the frame painted with gold and my Lord’s crest upon the same; one small table of China worke in golde and colours with flies and wormes upon a pillar suitable, £1; a little gilded couch carved and cutt, 15s.; an ebony cabinett inlaid with mother-of-pearle, 13s.; a very large bedstead with wreathed pillars ballastars for head, side and feete, all coloured blacke and gold, £7; a foldinge Indian screne, £3 4s.

The bonds between England and Holland were very close in Puritan days, and the household belongings of the two countries, both in hall and cottage, were practically identical. In Holland, the Puritans found a refuge and congenial surroundings before sailing for the New World. The homes of the prosperous burghers of New Amsterdam, now New York, faithfully mirrored the comfort and taste of those of Amsterdam and The Hague; and here we may pause a moment to examine a couple of inventories of early dwellers in what is still the most important city in the Western Hemisphere.

Mrs. Margarita van Varick died in 1696, and her bequests to her children are eloquent testimony of the 242estimation in which she held her various household goods. In her will she leaves: “In a great chest bound up in a napkin for Johanna van Varick, a silver spice-box, a silver egg-dish, a silver thimble, a silver wrought East India box, 18 pieces of silver children’s toys, 11 pieces Arabian and Christian silver money, one gold ring with seven diamonds, two gold drops for the ear, one gold Arabian ducat, one Dutch Testament with gold clasps, one gold chain with a locket with seven diamonds, one pearl necklace, one small silver knife and fork, one small bundle beaten leaf gold, two gold pins headed with pearls, one gold bodkin, and one looking-glass with gilt frame.

“In another napkin for Marinus van Varick, three silver wrought East India cups, one ditto dish, three pieces of silver money, one medal, 20 pieces of silver children’s toys, one silver knife, one gold ring with a table diamond, two gold rings, one gold ducat, one gold medal, and one small gold box as big as a pea.

“In another napkin for Rudolphus van Varick, three silver wrought East India boxes, one small ditto dish, one silver tumbler marked R. V., 17 pieces silver playthings or toys, 8 pieces of silver money, one silver knife, one fork silver studded handle, one gold ring with three small diamonds, one gold ring, one ducat, two gold buttons, one gilded medal, and a gold piece the shape of a diamond.

“In another napkin for Cornelia van Varick, a silver wrought East India trunk, a ditto box, a saltcellar, 28 silver playthings or toys, 20 silver pieces of money, a small mother-of-pearl box, a gold comb, a Bible with gold clasps, a small bundle of leaf gold, a 243pair of diamond pendants, two gold chains, two gold rings with a diamond in each, two small gold rings, one pair crystal pendants edged with gold, one Arabian ducat, and two gold pins.

“Also for Johanna, the biggest and finest Turkey-work carpet, a set of white flowered muslin curtains, a chintz flowered carpet, an East India cabinet with ebony foot wrought, the picture of Mrs. van Varick, the picture of Johanna, three china pots, one feather bed, one bolster, two cushions, one quilt, one white calico blanket.

“Also for Marinus, a Turkey-work carpet, a gold bell and chain, a blue satin flowered carpet, a calico ditto, a silver-headed cane, a Moorish tobacco-pipe, a calico nightgown, a hair brush, a red box, two East India cabinets with brass handles, a feather bed, bolster, quilt, two cushions and green blanket, a picture of J. Abramson, and a ‘large picture of images, sheep and ships that hung above the chimney.’

“Also for Rudolphus, a small ebony trunk with silver handles, a picture with a gilt frame, a cane with a silver head, a flowered carpet stitched with gold, a calico carpet, and a large picture of himself.

“Also for Cornelia, the second finest Turkey-work carpet, two pictures with glasses before them, a calico nightgown, a hair brush, a chintz flowered carpet, a small black cabinet with silver hinges, the picture of Cornelia Hester deceased, the picture of a flower pot, a china cup bound with silver, a large looking-glass with ebony frame, two white china cups with covers, a feather bed covered with checkered linen, a bolster, three wadding cushions, two feather ditto, one quilt and a homespun blanket.

244“Also for Johanna and Cornelia, two glaasen cases with 39 pieces of small china-ware, 11 Indian babyes, and 6 small and 6 larger china dishes.

“Also for Marinus and Rudolphus, 23 pieces of china-ware.

“Also to be divided equally among them, 37 Dutch books 4º; and 46 ditto 8vo; and 4 ditto folio; a chest with children’s babyes playthings and toys; and 13 ebony chairs.”

Mrs. van Varick’s home in New Amsterdam did not suffer in comparison with the rich Dutch houses in Holland. Her clothes, jewels and bequests to her children prove that her life was one of ease, luxury and fashion. Her house was not only furnished with every comfort known to the period, but was filled with curios, treasures from the Far East, rich furniture, and a fine collection of china and paintings. Her furniture included fine and richly upholstered bedsteads, tables, chairs, cabinets, glass cupboards for china, great Kasten, a handsome “painted wooden rack to set china-ware in,” six looking-glasses, and ten Indian looking-glasses, “two East India cane baskets with covers, one fine East India dressing-basket, one round ditto, two wooden gilt East India trays, lackered, and one round thing ditto.” Five brass hanging candlesticks and handle candlesticks, a double brass ditto, snuffers and extinguisher, a pair of brass standing candlesticks, and a standing candlestick with two brass candlesticks to it, prove that the house did not suffer for want of illumination. It was also bright with rich curtains and cushions. Among these were six satin cushions with gold flowers, a suit of serge 245bed-curtains and valance with silk fringe, six scarlet serge bed-curtains with valance and silk fringe, a green serge chimney cloth with fringe, two chimney cloths of flowered crimson gauge and six window curtains of the same, a painted chimney cloth, a calico curtain, a fine chintz carpet, many handsome Turkey-work carpets and white flowered muslin curtains. She had fourteen East India pictures, some with gilt and some with black frames, and twelve prints also in black and gilt frames, two maps with black frames, and about twenty well chosen paintings. Some of the subjects of these clearly show that they were in the style of Jan Steen, Dou, etc. In addition to landscapes, battles and fruit-pieces, the inventory notes “two pictures of ships with black ebony frames,” “one picture of the Apostle,” “one large flower pot,” “one with a rummer,” “one birdcage and purse, etc.,” “a large horse battle,” and “a large picture of roots.”

The china exhibited in the cabinets and on the mantelpieces and cupboards made a fine display; for in addition to the Oriental curios and other pieces willed to her daughters the house contained: three large china dishes, ten china dishes, four ditto (cracked), three teapots, two china basins, one ditto (cracked), one smaller ditto, two ditto (cracked), three fine china cups, one china jug, four china saucers, six ditto smaller tea dishes, one ditto (cracked), six painted tea ditto, four tea ditto, eight teacups, four ditto painted brown, six smaller ditto, three ditto painted red and blue, two white East India flower pots, one ditto (cracked), three ditto smaller, two ditto (round), one lion, one china image, and a 246china ink-box and two sand-boxes. Among her articles for the table she also owned three wooden painted dishes and a wooden tray with feet; also “a thing to put spoons in.” A parcel of toys and a collar for a dog are among the miscellaneous articles.

Turning now to another Dutch house in New Amsterdam—that of the barber-surgeon, Mr. Jacob de Lange, whose inventory was taken in 1685—we find the rooms consisting of a foreroom, side chamber, chamber, kitchen, shop and cellar. Mr. de Lange has a remarkable collection of porcelain and pictures, a great deal of fine furniture, rich clothing, jewels and East India cabinets, beautiful hangings, etc., etc.

Mr. de Lange’s furniture consists of twelve chairs upholstered with red plush, six with green plush, eleven matted chairs, seven chairs with wooden backs and a church chair. He has two “cann boards,” two small “cloak boards,” a hat press, a clothes press, a square table, a round table, a small round table, and an oak drawing-table, a small square cabinet with brass hoops, one waxed East India small trunk, one square black small sealing waxed trunk, one silver thread wrought small trunk, and an ivory small trunk tipped with silver. He also owned an East India rush case containing nineteen wine and beer glasses, and an East India waxed cabinet with brass bands and hinges, containing gloves, ribbons, laces, fourteen fans and seven purses in the first partition; laces, buckles and ribbons in the second; cloth in the third; caps in the fourth; fans, bands, scarfs, garters and girdles in the fifth; silk, fringe and calico in the sixth; silk and materials for purses in the seventh, and spectacles in the eighth.

247The side chamber was furnished with eleven pictures, consisting of five East India pictures with red frames, four landscapes, one evening and a “small zea.” A looking-glass with a gilt frame also hung upon the wall. There was an enormous amount of porcelain here. The chimney was adorned with seven half-basins, two belly flagons, three white men, one sugar pot, two small pots, six small porringers and a small goblet. On and in the kas were two great basins, one goblet, two pots, two flasks, four drinking glasses, five drillings, six double butter dishes, thirty-three butter dishes, two white teapots, seven small red teapots, a hundred and twenty-seven teapots, one can with a silver joint, one ditto with a joint, two flaskets, one barber’s basin, five small basins, sixty-seven saucers, four salt-cellars, three small mustard pots, five oil pots, one small pot, three small men, two small men, one basin, two small cups, one small oil can, one ditto spice pot, five saucers, four small men, one small dog, two small swans, one small duck, two tobacco boxes, one sand-box, four small cans, one small spoon, six small flasks, two small oil cans, one small chalice, and two fruit dishes. This room contained an East India cupboard, ninety books, and a pair of blue curtains and valance.

The “foreroom” contained a black nutwood chest with two black feet under it, worth £2 10s., and some pieces of linen, £24 12s.; a looking-glass with a black frame, £1 5s.; two curtains before the glass windows; the family coat of arms in a black frame, £5 4s.; and the following paintings: “A great picture being a banquet with a black list,” “one ditto something smaller,” “one 248ditto a bunch of grapes with a pomegranate,” “one with apricocks,” “a small countrey,” “a Break of Day,” “a small Winter,” “a Cobler” and “a portrait of my lord Speelman.”

The pictures in the chamber include “a great picture banquet, worth £3 5s.; one ditto, £2 10s.; one small ditto, £1 15s.; one Abraham and Hagar, £1 5s.; four small countreys, £4; two small ditto, £1 12s.; one flower pot, one small ditto, one country people frolick, one sea-strand, one portraiture, and a plucked cock torn, two small countreys, one flower pot small, without a list, one small print broken, and thirteen East India prints pasted upon paper.”

This room was well furnished. There were sixteen linen curtains before the glass windows, a large and valuable kas covered or veneered with French nutwood, standing on two ball feet, worth £13; a great looking-glass with a black frame, a white valance before the chimney, “six cloths which they put on the shelves of the kas, one ditto with lace, two small calico valances before the glass windows, one red chimney cloth (probably placed over the white valance), two red striped silk curtains and two valances of the same, two green silk curtains and two embroidered valances, three grey striped silk chair cushions, four pieces of tapestry to be thrown over chests, one bedstead with white calico hangings and luxuriously supplied with cushions, and eight East India spreads, besides other spreads of flowered calico, red calico, and white calico in squares. There were five small East India boxes and a great deal of linen, also one white box marked E. W.”

Plate XXXVI.The Oyster Feast, by Jan Steen. The Hague.

Figs. 35–36: Chairs (Seventeenth Century); Fig. 37: Marquetry Designs (Seventeenth Century).

249Wherever the Dutch went, they lived not only in comfort, but in all the elegance and even splendour that their means would allow. In the New or the Old World, the merchant princes surrounded themselves with sumptuous furniture of mahogany, ebony, marquetry, ivory, lacquer, teak and sandal-wood, as well as porcelain, embroideries, rugs, screens and all kinds of stamped metal and bric-à-brac.

In 1685, the Count de Forbin says that the General of the East India Company at Batavia has a court quite royal in numbers and brilliance. “On my arrival (at the palace), the usual guard,” he writes, “which is very numerous, stood at arms, and, between two ranks of men, I was introduced into a gallery adorned with the most beautiful Japanese porcelains.”

Evelyn and other travellers are enthusiastic in their admiration of the riches and luxury they witnessed in Holland, although, as we have seen, England was not unfamiliar with Oriental art products. The Stuarts were art connoisseurs of the first rank, and James II, to whom Macaulay denies mental and aesthetic appreciation, was an intelligent collector. The most brilliant figure in the Court of Louis XIV, the Marquis de Dangeau, notes in his Diary (January 8, 1689), on the arrival of the fugitive Stuart: “The King of England found the apartments (of the Dauphin) admirable, and talked like a connoisseur of all the pictures, porcelains, crystals and other things that he saw there.”

One of the travellers who describes the Eastern goods seen in the shops and houses of Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, Charles Patin, writes in 1690:

250“I had a sight of all their curiosities and those of all sorts, and among other divers paintings that we know, and others which are unknown to us; as also Indian and Chinese pieces of an inestimable value. In these last a curious eye may discover all the secret particulars of the history, the manner of living, customs and religion of those countries, and there are represented certain martyrs, who sacrifice their blood to the transport of their zeal, if it may be allowed to make so bad an application of that sacred name, which belongs only to the heroes of the true religion.”

Wills and inventories are invaluable aids to the student of Dutch furniture; but even more illuminating are the interiors painted by the Great and Little Masters—Jan Steen, Metsu, Cocques, Teniers, Rembrandt, Terburg, Don Weenix, Hoogstraten, Koedyck and a host of others. These are valuable as showing not only individual pieces of furniture, but also the general arrangement of rooms.

Plate XXVI, representing The Sick Woman, by Jan Steen, in the Rijks Museum, shows a very simple room with bare floor and bare walls. At the back of the room is an upholstered bed with long straight curtains, and tester ornamented with fringe and surmounted with “pommes.” On the wall hang a lute and a Frisian clock. The back of the chair is carved with lions’ heads above the arms. The table is covered with a handsome “carpet.”

Plate XXXVII.The Sick Lady, by Hoogstraten.


A similar bed stands in the right hand corner of the room, represented in Plate XXXVII, also the picture of a Sick Lady, by S. van Hoogstraten. The arrangement 251of this room is extremely interesting, as a short flight of seven steps leads into a narrow passage and room above. A round window hung with a curtain lights the passage-way above, which contains a number of fine paintings and a low-backed chair with spirally turned legs, the back and seat covered with velvet put on with large-headed nails. A door leads into the room beyond, but all that we can see of this is a marble mantelpiece with a handsome painting above it, and heavy andirons. A large square armchair with spirally turned legs stands on the left of the bed. The invalid is seated on a common stiff chair of no decorative interest.

The obvious upper room was always a favourite feature of the houses in the Low Countries. An interior balcony is shown in Plate XXXVIII. This interior, painted by J. Koedyck about 1650, now in Brussels, is very interesting. The ceiling is unusually high, and consists of heavy beams; the windows are flush with the outside wall with deep interior recesses, and beneath them is a long wooden bench rudely carved. The old woman seated in a plain, two-backed, rush-bottomed chair seems to be dusting the legs of a spinet. Another two-backed chair stands in front of the bed, which from the positions of its pillows looks as if it might consist of an upper and lower berth, as was and still is often the case in the simpler homes in the Netherlands. Straight curtains hang from the cornice, a warming-pan is seen on the right, while above the cornice of the bed a child looks out of the shutters in the upper gallery. The chimney-piece is without the usual funnel-shaped top, 252and is also lacking in flat architectural ornamentation or a large painting. A candlestick and a few plates are the sole ornaments. It is carved with caryatids, however, and furnished with a chimney-cloth. Near the only caryatid visible stands what seems to be a metal “blower”; but there is probably no fire in the hearth, for the cat has found what she considers the most comfortable spot in the room on the foot-warmer. The most interesting piece of furniture in the room is the high-backed settle in the space between the fireplace and the window. This is panelled, and a little decoration occurs below the arms. Of course, the seat lifts up, and the box is used as a receptacle for articles.

Plate XXVII, one of Jan Steen’s famous interiors, from the Rijks Museum, has several interesting features: the architectural door and the high chimney-piece with stove being the most curious. The bed is dome-shaped and upholstered. A good type of chair stands in the foreground, and a table, on which is a cloth with deep fringe. A beautifully painted birdcage hangs from the ceiling.

Plate XXXVIII.Interior, by J. Koedyck, Brussels.

Plate XXXVI, known as the Oyster Feast, by Jan Steen, in The Hague, shows an interesting room, which serves as hall, dining-room and kitchen. A large curtain is looped over the balustrade, which runs midway across the hall. This gallery leads from one of the upper sleeping apartments to another. One large window, with four panes, supplies the light. To the left of it is a bed, and next to it a mantelpiece with marble columns. Near this a parrot is sitting in a ring. Next comes the fireplace, where the oysters are being cooked. Waffle-irons 253lean up against the handsome chair in the foreground. Beneath the window a jovial man sits in a low-backed chair, near the group playing tric-trac on the long table, over which hangs a landscape in a handsome frame. Another table with a rich carpet is placed on the extreme right, at which two persons are enjoying their oysters. A clock hangs on the wall, and also a lute and birdcages. A large birdcage, similar to the one in Plate XXVII, hangs before the window. A dog, a kitten and playful children add a merry touch to the scene.

Plate XXXIX represents The Music Lesson, by Terburg, in the National Gallery, London. Here we have an ordinary sitting or living-room of a well-to-do household. The bed in the background resembles those in Plate XXVI and Plate XXXVII. On the wall hangs a picture in a rich frame. The fair musician sits on a low-backed chair with her foot on a foot-warmer. The table is covered with a very handsome carpet. Upon it stands a handsome candlestick.

Plate XLI, The Breakfast, by G. Metsu (1630–67) (Dresden Gallery), shows us the interior of an inn, with comparatively little furniture. The chair on which the woman is sitting is a good example of the period. The table, on which a “buire” stands, is of the most primitive kind. The birdcage hanging from the ceiling is similar to the one represented in Plate XXVII.

Plate XLII, by Jan Steen, representing a jovial company, is chiefly interesting for our purpose on account of the chair in which the host sits, the tablecloth and the larder at the back of the room, on which stand a 254mortar and pestle, a vase with flowers, a pot and two plates. In the right-hand corner stands a bed, and from this hangs the legend on a piece of paper: “As the old ones sing, so will the young ones pipe.”

Plate XL, by J. B. Weenix (1621–60), shows a simple interior from the Brussels Museum—a lady at her toilet. The chair on which she sits is very interesting, with its low back, carved top rail and spirally turned stretchers. The “table carpet” is a superb Oriental rug, and the mirror with its massive frame is a magnificent example of carving and gilding. The candlestick is also massive. The windows, flush with the walls, are set with small panes, and are furnished with a curtain.

A very interesting interior of the seventeenth century occurs in a picture by G. Metsu in The Hague Gallery. In a room with a very fine chimney-piece supported by marble pillars, and above which is a fine picture and a beautiful chandelier, a lady is standing improvising upon a lute. Another lady seated at a table is taking down the music, while a man looks over her shoulder. The lady is seated upon a low-back leather chair studded with heavy nails. Her foot rests upon a foot-warmer. The table has heavy ball-feet connected with stretchers, and the heavy cloth or carpet is pushed back carelessly. A tray or “standish,” holding the ink bottles, etc., is carelessly placed upon the folds of the cover. The lady holds a quill pen in her hand.

Plate XXXIX.The Music Lesson, by Terborch.


No subject was more congenial to the Dutch painters than scenes of home life and familiar interiors. Not only were Jan Steen, Teniers, Dou, Metsu and others of like rank attracted to the home, but an army of 255mediocre masters devoted their talents to this subject. If the works of the “Little Masters” found their way into royal and princely collections, the works of more obscure painters decorated the homes of the citizens, country people and colonists. The stranger who visited the Dutch cities was amazed at the many interiors and landscapes that were exhibited in the booths, at the fairs, and under the verandahs in front of the houses of the masters. These were often bought for a small sum by travellers, who sold them in their own country at considerable profit.

When a bride went to her new home, she often found that it had been furnished from top to bottom; but this was not always the case. As a rule, wealthy burghers did not do this. The young wife, accompanied by one or two of her near relatives and followed by a couple of servants and a truckman, went about from shop to shop to select what she needed. This was called “ten huisraet vaeren” (going furnishing), and De Vrij devotes a chapter to this pleasant occupation under the title of “De vrou vaert ten huysraet” (the wife goes out to furnish). In his time the old simplicity had vanished in favour of a general luxury hardly equalled to-day. De Vrij, therefore, allows his wealthy lady to purchase “down beds, fine plush and wadded coverlids, costly hangings, large Venetian mirrors, Indian crackle porcelain, lounging chairs, Turkish carpets, Amsterdam gold leather, costly paintings, a silver service, a sacredaan cupboard, an ebony table, a curio cabinet, a napkin kas, a large quantity of napkins, tablecloths and other fine household linen, and a thousand other articles.”

256One has only to glance at the contemporary inventories to realize the wealth and luxury of the period. It is only in a few instances, such as the old Castle of Develstein, when occupied by Cornelius van Beveren, that the old simplicity rules; for the old grey town on the Merwede (Dordrecht), although the richest and oldest, was not the most luxurious in Holland. It conserved its own customs, while Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Delft and other cities vied with The Hague.

One or two large chests always stood in the bedroom. In these linen and clothing were kept. As a rule, the chest was of sacredaan, with brass or silver mounts, and neatly lined inside with cloth.

Linen was also kept in the great kasten. These were ornately carved or panelled, made of different woods, and often inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Some of them cost as much as 1,000 fl. Rare porcelain was always placed on the top of the kas.

The great linen chest or coffer, and the great cupboard in which household linen and articles of clothing were kept, were among the most important articles of furniture in a Dutch household. The chest was tall and wide, and made, as a rule, of lignum vitæ, or sacredaan, or other East India wood, frequently covered outside with leather and lined inside with linen or some other textile. It was often mounted with brass or silver, sometimes richly wrought.

The cupboard, or kas, was very broad and very tall, and was made of oak, ebony, or walnut, and stood on four heavy balls, which were often repeated on the four corners of the top, and are described by Van Nispen as “guardians of the porcelain ornaments,” which adorned the top.

Plate XL.Interior, by J. B. Weenix, Brussels.

257As many as ten or twelve each of chests and kasten have been noticed in old inventories in one dwelling, and they are described according to the wood of which they are made, or the name of the room in which they stood. Accordingly, we read of coffers and cupboards of oak, sacredaan, cherry, and plum-tree wood, blue and red grained East India wood, iron coffers, Prussia leather and lacquered coffers, the office coffer, the office cupboard, the kitchen cupboard, the cupboard of the green painted room, of the gold leather room, of the tapestry room, etc., etc. Let us examine some of the cupboards in the home of Sara de Roovere, second wife of Adriaan van Blyenborgh, Keeper of the Count’s Mint, and known as a Latin poet. This home is in Dordrecht.

In the “gold leather room” stand several cupboards, some of which are of rare wood and richly carved. These cupboards contain a rich store of snow-white linen, damask tablecloths, napkins, bed-clothing, towels, shirts, bibs, neckerchiefs, frills, handkerchiefs, etc., “saved from grandmother’s time with economy, or inherited from great-aunt and kept as precious treasures,” all for her own use, or as wedding gifts to her children, Jacob, Adriaan, Charlotte, or Adriana. Like many another Dutch lady, every penny won at play, every present, and everything that could be saved from the household money, this thrifty housewife devoted to increase the treasure. A great part of the day she spent with her daughters in the front room (voorhuis), or with the maids in the kitchen, at the spinning-wheel, the 258sewing-cushions, the work-table, or the ironing-board. She considered it an honour to have a rich Linnenkast, and she was proud of being called a “house jewel careful of the third part” and deserving of the name, as she possessed “mountains of her own make and foreign produced stuff.” Her inventory shows that she possessed no less than twenty-four dozen chemises, forty dozen tablecloths and napkins, and coffers full of uncut linen.

Some burghers’ wives had their linen made up by the seamstress.

In another cupboard, called the “scalloped,” owing to the many St. James’ shells carved upon it, Joffer van Blyenborgh kept one of the most costly articles of her attire—the breast or forepiece. These breast-pieces, or stomachers, were worn on the corsage, to which they were fastened by means of pretty silk cords. They were made of silk, satin, or velvet, and often profusely decorated with pearls or jewels, and sometimes cost as much as £10,000.

Vrouwe van Blyenborgh had coffers filled with petticoats of scarlet cloth and also of wool cloth, coarse grey, black and white linen under petticoats, jackets, hoop skirts, mantles and rain cloaks. Her cupboards and coffers also included: rich robes of sarcenet and serge of fire colour, rose colour and ground colour, covered with ribbons, bows, galloons; bodices embroidered and trimmed with lace and fringe; petticoats garnished with fringe of fire colour; grey cloth dresses lined with blue serge; and Japanese night robes of dead leaf colour, embellished with aurora hued flowers and lined with wadding. Neatly folded among these rich articles were white satin robes lined with amaranth taffeta, black velvet robes with cloth of silver, and petticoats embroidered with golden flowers and lined with taffeta d’Avignon. She also had some cloth of gold valued at £16 a yard.

Plate XLI.Breakfast, by G. Metsu, Dresden.

259Dress and furniture became so extravagant during this period that the stage ridiculed the lavish expenditure, and the other censor of public morals—the pulpit—denounced the needless splendour as degrading before God and men. The Dordrecht preacher, Joh. Becius, exclaimed: “Are the pride and splendour of to-day more extreme than with the people of Israel? Certainly not; but rather worse; for women go about, not only with bare necks, but half-bared bosoms partly covered with a thin net or cambric cloth—and in the robes and dresses they are more splendid than the proud peacock, more changeable than the chameleon or the weather-cock on the church steeple. They almost dance along the streets dressed up as dolls for a kermesse; and these creatures, so gaily attired, vie with each other to enter the Lord’s House where is preached Christ born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes.”

Among the other vanities carefully preserved in the drawers and on the shelves were the fans, masks, lace and jewels; châtelaines, ribbons, hats, bonnets and caps; silk, cloth and serge stockings richly embroidered; fancy shoes and slippers with high heels, and leather and silk gloves sweetly perfumed. Vrouwe van Blyenborgh had a number of thin, beautiful, scented, leather gloves; a large stock of “shoework” of silk, satin, gold 260and silver leather, and yellow, green and scarlet stockings. We must not forget to mention the round silver mirrors suspended from gold hooks at the belt, and the delicately painted miniatures worn as lockets or breast-pins.

The great kas was as conspicuous in the houses of the Dutch colonists as it was at home. Every inventory of the prosperous burgher of New Amsterdam mentions it, and it is highly appraised. To take a few instances: “One great case covered with French nutwood and two black knots (balls) under it, £13” (1685); “a cupboard or case of French nutwood, £20” (1686); a white oak cupboard, £2 5s. (1688); a large cupboard, £6 (1690); cupboard for clothes, a press and porcelain, £5; and a “Holland cubbart furnished with earthenware and porcelain,” £15 (1692); a great black walnut cupboard, £10 (1702); a Dutch painted cupboard, £1 (1702); a black walnut cupboard, £9 (1703); and a case of nutwood, £10 (1712). The kas was often a valued bequest: Mrs. van Varick had one “great Dutch kas that could not be removed from Flatbush”; and, therefore, was sold for £25.

Plate XLII.Interior, by Jan Steen. The Hague.

In the rooms of the Castle of Develstein were standing mirrors and mirrors in ebony, metal and crystal frames, on the walls; and in the “salon” was a mirror of Venetian glass. In this room was seen the “kingwood hall buffet,” where, on festive or ceremonial occasions, the family silver and crystal were exhibited, such as silver plates, dishes, spoons, knives, beakers, decanters and mugs, silver-mounted horns and night cups—all engraved with the family arms, or with conventional rhymes or mottoes. In the “salon” or “show salon” 261was placed the “root-wood (root of the walnut tree) table,” formed like steps (a survival of the dressoir), on which the rarest and finest porcelains were shown. Here also was the richly carved walnut kas containing a rare display of fine china, while on the wall walnut racks, beautifully carved and ornamented with gold, the handsomest plaques were arranged. There was also a pewter table in this room, on which stood many pewter dishes, cups, tankards, etc., engraved with the family arms; but most of the pewter was kept in the pewter cupboards (tinkasten), in the pewter room, or in rows upon the dresser in the kitchen, ready for immediate use. Silver table-ware was not in general use, for pewter took its place as an everyday article. Among the glassware shown in this room were cordial, wine and beer glasses, chalices and loving-cups of white and green glass, engraved with arms, ornaments, proverbs, and shell-like Venetian glasses, supposed to be proof against poison.

Two interesting examples of kasten are given on Plates XLIII and XLIV.

Plate XLIII represents a large Dutch kas, or buffet à deux corps, from the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam. This magnificent specimen is of solid ebony inlaid with ivory. Its grooved columns, panels and niches break up the plain surface with much variety. It stands on eight bulb feet. It is similar in shape to the English “court cupboard” of the same century.

Plate XLIV represents a large armoire, or kas, from the Cluny Museum, Paris. This was made in Holland. The front is ornamented with three pilasters with carved 262capitals, between which are the two doors or wings decorated with carved panels. The cornice is ornamented with three lions’ heads. Beneath the columns are drawers with simple knobs. This piece of furniture stands on flattened bulb feet.

In the latter part of the seventeenth century, the cabinet was found in every home of moderate wealth. In an inventory of 1679, “a root-wood cabinet, with Japanese small dishes and ‘colossol’ (very large) pots under its high feet” is mentioned. These cabinets stood on high legs, sometimes with only one drawer underneath. They were frequently made of rough pinewood painted red; but often they were very handsome (see Plate XXXI). In the bedroom of Lady Reepmaker in the Castle of Develstein there was a “cabinet-maker’s small cupboard to put dresses in, one one-drawer cabinet on a high base, one hair-dressing table, one ditto chair, one ditto mirror with ebony frame, one gold leather comb-holder, and the ‘nachtbouquet’” (night bouquet), a piece of furniture used by the upper classes after 1672, in which everything relating to the toilet of the period was found, such as: a silver framed mirror, powder boxes, silver trays, pin-books, patch-boxes, hair and clothes brushes, and other small toilet articles, as well as silver candlesticks, snuffers and snuffer-trays.

When a wealthy lady sat in front of her “dressing-cloth,” as her dressing-table was familiarly called, she had before her an array of bottles and boxes containing perfumes, powders, paints and beauty patches, as well as a treasure-house of pearls, diamonds, rings and bracelets set with glittering stones, ear-rings, necklaces, chains of pearls, gold and silver pins, spangles, half-moons, so that she looked like “a sun surrounded by suns,” or a “diamond surrounded by rubies.”

Plate XLIII.Kas of Ebony and Ivory.


263Her innumerable toilet-boxes of tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl, her silver and gold scent-boxes, her boxes of filigree, her ivory, ebony and porcelain boxes and trays for her patches and cosmetics, her rich jewel cases of gold, silver, tortoiseshell or ivory, lined with velvet, her brushes and her shoe-horns, and her beautiful work-boxes supplied with thimbles, bodkins, knitting-needles, hooks, scissors, and everything that could be used for sewing and fancy needlework are displayed on her toilet-table and in her cabinets.

The table-cover or “carpet” was a most important decorative feature of the Dutch room. It was generally a handsome Oriental rug. This was thrown over the dining-table, the ordinary table in the hall or kitchen (see Plate XXVII and Plate XXXVI), in the bedroom (see Plate XXVI and Plate XXXVII), and used also for the toilet-table (see Plate XL). Often it was ornamented with handsome fringe (see Plate XXVI and Plate XXVII). When an impromptu meal was served, it was the custom to cover the handsome cloth with a white cloth, of which the Dutch housewife always had a large supply (see Plate XXXVI and Plate XLII). Four exceptionally handsome table “carpets” appear in Plate XL, Plate XXXIX, Plate XXVI and Plate XXXVII.

In nearly every Dutch interior one notes the presence of the foot-warmer or foot-stove—a little wooden box with a perforated top and sometimes perforated sides of wood or brass. In this, glowing embers were placed. 264One of these is seen in Plate XXVI and another in Plate XXXVII, while in Plate XXXVIII a cat is seen comfortably keeping itself warm. On Plate XXXIX the lady playing the double-necked lute has her foot on one of these universally used articles.

These foot-warmers that served as footstools, and were carried to church, are described in Roemer Visscher’s Sinnenpoppen (Animated Dolls). He calls them “mignon des dames,” and says: “Een stoef met vier daer in, is een bemint juweel by onse Hollandsche vrouwen, bysonder als de sneeuwvlocken vlieghen ende hagel ende rijp het lof van de boomen jaeght.

(“A stove with fire in it is a beloved jewel of our Dutch wives, especially when the snowflakes are flying and the hail rattles.”)

The author of the Dutch Mercurius calls it “a small wooden piece of carpentry with four holes in the top.”

The “Looking-Glasse” that attracted Owen Feltham’s attention was a luxury. The spiegel-maker (mirror-maker) was only to be found in the large cities. He was not allowed to make the frames, nor to gild them; for this was the work of the Carpenters’ and Gilders’ Guild. The signs, however, read—“spyeghelwinckel,” “de nyeuwe spyeghelwinckel,” “spyeghel-magazijn,” “allerley spyeghels groot en clijn,” and “de Venetiaense spyeghelwinckel.” (The “mirror shop,” “the new mirror shop,” “mirror magazine,” “all kinds of mirrors, large and small,” and “Venetian mirrors.”)

Plate XLIV.Dutch Kas.


The glass mirror was a novelty, for, until the seventeenth century, polished metal was used; but at this period a method of silvering glass with a mixture of 265quicksilver and pewter was invented in the celebrated factory of Murano. The Venetians monopolized the trade until the end of the century, when Abraham Thevart made mirrors (84 × 50 inches) in Paris. Both Venetian and French mirrors adorned the reception rooms of the rich stadhouders and mayors of Holland, and hung above the toilet-tables of ladies (see Plate XL). The archives of the Castle of Develstein mention: a “very large mirror from France,” “Venetian mirrors,” “a small coarse mirror in a black frame,” “a fine Venetian mirror in the Salon, with flowered crystal border”; “an Amsterdam mirror of medium size,” and “one French mirror, large and beautiful.”

Mirrors were not only valued for their thick glass and fine silvering, but on account of their choice frames. Inventories speak of scroll frames, open-work frames, frames with lions or griffins supporting a coat-of-arms, etc. Ladies also carried German and English mirrors suspended from their waists, for the purpose of arranging their coiffure, ruff, or patches.

The mirror, like other expensive luxuries, was often prohibited by the clergy of the Protestant Church; and many a rich burgher was reprimanded for spending so much money on mirrors, porcelain and furniture, and giving so little to the Church.

The most beautiful mirrors were probably found in The Hague, where the reception rooms and bedrooms were usually decorated in the “style Louis XIV.” Some of these were of Venetian glass with beautiful crystal borders and crystal lustres at the side. Frequently these were placed above the richly carved mantelpiece.

266The bedsteads, often richly carved, were of oak, walnut or sacredaan, and were always hung with curtains. A deep valance often decorated the base. The centre of the canopy was ornamented with the family coat-of-arms, and each corner with a bouquet of many coloured plumes. Sometimes the bedstead was on a platform, and the rich hangings were supported by caryatides and the festoons of the canopy by carved cupids. The bedsteads were high, and a ladder or steps was required to climb into them. Little steps or foot benches stood in front of the bedstead and were sometimes used for seats or tables, somewhat like the old escarbeau of Mediaeval days.

One species of bedstead was known as the “coach,” or “rolling coach.” This was intended for children, and the name “coach” was extended to include the children’s sleeping-place. Mention is made in a treasurer’s account of Dordrecht (1586) of “three bedsteads with a coach underneath,” which shows that the coach is the trundle or truckle bed.

Tables and chairs were found in every room. About 1640, the “drop-leaf” or “hang-ear” tables came into use. They were usually made of solid walnut- or sacredaan wood.

The chairs had high curved, or leather, backs and low seats of leather, on top of which were placed loose cushions or pillows, which were often piled up so high on the seat that a child standing on tiptoe could not see over the pillow on the seat of the chair. Chairs were also covered with rich damask, serge and other woollen goods. In the old inventories mention is made of “Prussia leather table chairs,” ebony carved chairs, red cloth covered sacredaan wood chairs with pillows of different shapes, and of high-backed carved walnut table chairs.

Plate XLV.Flemish Chair.


267Typical chairs are shown in Plates XXXIII and XXXIV from the Rijks Museum. In the first there is a caned armchair on the left, an upholstered armchair on the right, with turned legs and rails; and in the middle a chair in the Marot style, with a mirror-shaped back, cane panel, straight legs and crossed straining-rails. The example on the extreme left of Plate XXXIV is an armchair of carved oak, with scrolled arms and cane seat and back. It is similar to the one without arms from Cluny in Plate XLV. A cane chair without arms appears in the centre, and on the right an armchair with turned legs, carved top rail, and leather back and seat. The Flemish chair on Plate XLV is constantly seen in the rooms of the seventeenth century.

The chair on the left of Plate XXX in the Cluny Museum, called “Spanish of the Seventeenth Century,” is a curious transitional piece. The high back and seat are covered with Spanish leather put on with large-headed nails. The pattern of the leather represents peacocks, flowers and human figures. The ornamentation of the top rail consists of a leaf and scrolls ending in sharp spikes at the corners, very much in the early Regency style. On the rail below the seat is carved a heart-shaped ornament. The front legs are cabriole, connected with stretchers and ending in hoof feet. The back legs, also connected by stretchers, are straight.

Other furniture included spinets and harpsichords, Friesland clocks, table watches and pocket watches, 268which, when not in use, were placed in little cases, as were the mirrors the ladies wore at their waists. Sand- or hour-glasses were to be found especially in the kitchens, and the table-bell, which had now supplanted the whistle as a call for the servants.

The woods used for furniture were oak, walnut, cedar, olive, nutwood, ebony (black, green and yellow); kingwood, from Brazil, a hard wood with black veins on a chocolate ground; beef-wood, from New Holland, of a pale red used for borders; palissandre, or violet wood, from Guiana, for inlays on fine furniture; and, above all, sacredaan, or Java mahogany, a very hard wood, sweet smelling and of a bright yellow or pale orange colour. This was a favourite wood for chests, as the odour served to protect furs and woollen stuffs from the attacks of moths, etc.

The Dutch kitchen towards the end of the century was fully equipped with all kinds of brushes, brooms, pots, pans and every utensil that was necessary to effect the cleanliness and produce the good cheer so necessary to every prosperous burgher. In 1680, a kitchen of a man of moderate means in New Amsterdam contained the following:

£ s. d.
Fourteen pewter dishes, little and great 3 5 0
Three ditto basons, one salt seller, one pye plate 0 9 0
Four chamber potts, one warming pan of brasse 0 15 0
Two pewter flagons, a little one and a greate one 0 5
Two smoothing-irons, three pewter quart potts 0 7 6
Three pewter pint potts, 1½ pint pot and two muck potts 0 6 9
Four old pewter saucers and ½ doz. plates 0 6 0
Six dozen wooden trenchers, three tin cover lids 0 8 0
Two frying pans, five spitts, two dripin pans, iron and tin 1 2 6
One puding pan of tin, one greate brasse kettle, three iron potts, one brasse skillett 1 16 0
Two copper saucepans, one little iron kettle 0 6 0
Two pair iron pott hookes, a jack with a wt of 56 lbs. 1 14 0
Two pair andirons, one brasse ladle, one iron beefe forke 1 0 6
Two pair of tongs, one fire shovell, a long bar of iron 0 4 6
One iron chaine in the chimney and three pot hangers 0 15 6
One bellows, a board to whet knives upon 0 1 0
Two copper pots, two brass candlesticks, six tin candlesticks 0 10 0

Plate XLVI.“Buire,” by Mosyn, Auricular Style.

269Silverware was an important item in the possessions of the merchant class as well as the nobility. In 1682, we find the following items in the inventory of a prosperous butcher:

£ s. d.
Twenty-two silver spoons, one silver forke, three silver gobletts, one ditto tankard, one ditto mustard pot, one ditto cup with two eares, five silver small cuppes, one ditto, one goblet, two ditto salt sellars, one ditto cup, two ditto saucers, one ditto cup, one ditto spice box, a Cornelia tree cup with silver, two ditto dishes, weight in all ten pounds 48 0 0
A silver girdle with hanging keys, one ditto with three chaines with hookes, one gold bodkin, two silver bodkins, “silver for my booke with a chaine,” silver to a belt for a sworde 1 4 0
One silver hat band 0 13 6
One silver tumbler 1 0 0
One silver bell 0 18 0
One silver watch 1 0 0
Two pair silver buckles 0 8 0
Fourteen gold rings 10 7 6
One pair silver buttons, and one silver knife 0 12 0

No view of a Dutch interior of the seventeenth century would be complete if it neglected to take into consideration the family pets. These are very much in evidence in the pictures, by Dutch masters. These consist of monkeys, parrots, peacocks, pheasants, cats and dogs.

The monkey is quite a privileged character. Sometimes he is perched on the top of a spinet and sometimes on a kas or a chimney-piece.

The masters of vessels that sailed the Eastern Seas, both English and Dutch, were commissioned by nobles and potentates to bring home rare animals. In 1609, 270for instance, the East India Company issued letters for reserving “all strange fowls and beasts to be found there,” for the Council. In 1623, we find a note that to the governor of the Company a “Caccatoa” was sent from Batavia. The cockatoo is a familiar resident in Dutch homes. He and other kinds of parrots, domiciled in wicker and wire cages, are very much in evidence in the genre pictures of the age. The golden and silver pheasants were also privileged members of the household, and were allowed the freedom of the hall. Sometimes we see them perched on cornices, and sometimes strutting on the tiled floor. The monkey, which played so important a part in the “singerie” decoration of the late Louis Quatorze, Régence and Louis Quinze periods, was imported in considerable numbers. A gossipy journal—Le Courrier du temps, conducted by Fouquet de Croissy who undertook to tell the secret happenings in the court of every prince in Europe—records the following item of news from Amsterdam, under date of September 1, 1649:

“This week several ships have arrived here from the Indies. Among the other riches with which the good agent was charged, he has brought a dozen of the rarest and most beautiful monkeys that have ever been seen in these parts. Cardinal Mazarin has sent for them to put them in his wardrobe and anti-chambers to divert those who pay court to him and to judge the affection they have for his service by the civility and good treatment of the animals, the favourites of his Eminence, receive from them.”



The Dutch Craftsmen in the Employ of Louis XIV—Huguenot Emigration—Marot—The Sopha—Upholstery—The Bed—Chairs—Sconces—Tables—Rooms—English and Dutch Alliances—Hampton Court—Queen Mary—Looking-glasses—Chandeliers—Chimney-pieces—The style refugié—John Hervey’s Purchases—Oriental Furniture manufactured after European Patterns—Complaints of Home Manufacturers—Trade with the Indies—“Prince Butler’s Tale”—Enormous Importations—Imported Textiles—Foreign Textiles for Upholstery.

The last designer of furniture of any importance that has hitherto demanded attention is Crispin van de Passe. The next one is also a Dutchman. It is noticeable that the arts and crafts of France and England were always deeply affected by the activities of the Low Countries. France, even during the reign of Louis XIV, owed much to Dutch culture and energy. Boulle, who was of Dutch extraction (see page 115), gave his name to a special kind of furniture which he developed and elaborated.

Another name famous in Decorative Art was that of Cander Jean Oppenordt, born in Guelderland in 1639. He emigrated to Paris to seek his fortune, and became “ébéniste du Roi,” was naturalized in 1679, and allowed a lodging in the Louvre in 1684. To him was given the 272charge of furnishing the Palace of Versailles, and in 1688 he made some beautiful marquetry furniture for the Duke of Burgundy. His son, Gilles Marie Oppenord (1672–1742), was architect to the Duke of Orleans.

France owed much to Italy, Belgium and Holland during the first half of the seventeenth century, but what she borrowed she repaid with interest. In 1685, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes induced fifty thousand families of the best French blood, intellect, art, culture and craftsmanship to seek voluntary exile. The Huguenots took refuge from the Dragonnades in England, Holland and Germany; and those countries benefited by the short-sighted policy of a bigoted king. So many goldsmiths, carvers, architects, designers and artists were among the emigrants that their subsequent work in the art world came to be known as the style refugié.

Undoubtedly the most commanding figure in this band was Daniel Marot. He was a member of a family of eminent French artists. He was a pupil of Lepautre, who for many years worked at the Gobelins manufactory and dominated the first period of the Louis XIV style. This style was particularly majestic, pompous and heavy, the general forms consisting of a mixture of the straight line and curve, and broad surfaces adapted for decoration. The heavy straining-rail and pilaster as a support are also characteristic. The ornaments consist of Roman and heroic trophies of antiquity, helmets, cuirasses, casques, plumes, swords, shields, laurel-wreaths and clubs, winged Victories, the elliptical cartouche, river gods leaning on urns, large cornucopias, heavy garlands, or swags, of fruit and leaves, the broad acanthus leaf, the mascaron, the swelling scroll, and the combination of scroll and shell. Lepautre was also fond of introducing the alcove into a room.

Fig. 39.Screen in the style refugié.

273A typical screen of this period is shown in Fig. 39. The massiveness and boldness of curve of the lines of the frame are characteristic of the artists of the Louis XIV period who formed the style refugié; and the grace and fancy of the design in the tapestry filling are worthy of more than passing consideration. The Chinoiserie influence is already apparent in the small hanging canopy.

At this date the sopha was greatly in vogue. This was really nothing more than the old settle with carved framework, and richly upholstered. It rarely accommodated more than two persons, and, as a rule, only one is shown sitting upon it. The legs and straining-rail followed the general lines and decoration of those of the stands for cabinets, toilet-tables, etc. The arms were sometimes solid or stuffed, and sometimes open-work covered with velvet or other textiles. Sometimes the sopha is furnished with a bolster at both ends. Typical forms are shown in Figs. 40, 41 and 42.

Although Marot was well acquainted with porcelain and Eastern wares in France, he found the prevailing taste much more extravagant when he took refuge in Holland. There he became the supreme exponent of the style refugié. William of Orange appointed him his chief architect and minister of works, and Marot accompanied him to England at the Glorious Revolution a couple of years later. In Holland, he designed much interior work for palaces and noblemen’s seats, including staircases, panelling, chimney-pieces, cornices, 274china-shelves and brackets, and all kinds of domestic furniture. He was also extremely prolific in designs for sumptuous upholstery in velvet, worsted and other textiles for chairs, screens, hangings, curtains, bed-heads, etc. Marot died in 1718; and his published works of Decorative Art include many hundred designs representative of that period immediately preceding the Regency, known in England as “William and Mary” and “Queen Anne.”

Upholstery was an exceedingly important part of interior decoration at that period, and there were right and wrong ways to hang curtains and decorate the framework of beds with valances, fringes, lambrequins, etc. Figs. 44 and 45 show two of Marot’s arrangements of lambrequins.

The massive bed with its four posts of carved oak, which had so long been in fashion, had now been supplanted by one in which upholstery was the chief decorative feature. This bed consisted of a light frame supporting a canopy, the four corners of which were surmounted by a bunch of plumes, or ornaments, or knobs, in imitation of ostrich feathers, called “pommes.” The furnishings of the bed, including head-board, canopy, counterpane, curtains and valances, were of the same material—velvet, brocade, silk, satin, chintz, or white dimity worked in coloured crewels or worsted. Three beds of this period are to be seen at Hampton Court Palace—William’s, Mary’s and Queen Anne’s. Both William’s and Mary’s are now in the Private Diningroom. The former, which is about fifteen feet high, is covered entirely with crimson damask, and Mary’s, which is much smaller, with crimson velvet. The small bed used by George II when he lived in this Palace, and which stands between William’s and Mary’s, may also belong to this period. Queen Anne’s bed is more elaborate. This stands in her State Bed-chamber; and it is not unlikely that Queen Anne’s bed originally belonged to Mary; for she owned a number of very handsome beds draped with materials of the latest fashion. The elaborate designs upon the rich Genoa velvet that adorns this piece of furniture are quite in the Marot style.

Plate XLVII.Carved Oak Bahut.


Fig. 38: Ornament in the Auricular Style.

275The bed of this period was particularly suited to Marot’s taste, and he made many designs, in which the festoon is conspicuous.

The bed shown in the frontispiece of this book is a typical example of Marot. The heavy cornice is adorned with a cartouche in the centre and four “pommes” of ostrich feathers in vases at the corners. The headboard is also characteristic of Marot, and consists of an urn with swags of leaves and husks, with mermaids as caryatides or supporters at the sides. At the base of the bed is a mascaron. The silk draperies are arranged in formal swags tied with bows of silk and cords and tassels, and the valance around the bottom of the bed is similar to the cornice decoration. Running around the cornice is a brass rail for the outside curtains, which can be drawn around the bed enclosing it entirely, with the exception of the “pommes.” The counterpane, bolster and pillow are covered with material that carries Marot designs. The pillow is adorned with tassels.

Another of Marot’s designs for a bed is reproduced in Plate XLVIII. This is interesting on more than 276one account. The carving of the canopy shows the advent of the rocaille work that ran mad during the periods of the Regency and Louis XV. The scrolls in the woodwork at the foot of the bed are of the same form as the stretchers in tables, chairs, stands and stools of the period. The decoration of the room is worth notice also. The walls are covered with tapestry, and the same lambrequin that adorns the bed is repeated all along the walls under the cornice. The same decoration is repeated around the seat of the armchair on either side of the bed. The low foot-posts of the bed are surmounted by “pommes,” which usually hold the positions above, here occupied by carved shells. Finally, the sconce mirror over the chair is graceful in form.

Queen Anne’s bed at Hampton Court Palace gives one a good idea of the Marot decoration. It has a square canopy and tester, below which hang curtains that when drawn enclose the entire bed. The head-board is upholstered. The furnishings of this bed are entirely of stamped or cut velvet, a white ground with formal patterns of crimson and orange. The chairs, tabourets and long forms are also covered with this material.

A beautiful chandelier of silver decorated with glass balls hangs from the ceiling, which was painted by Sir James Thornhill. The design depicts Aurora rising from the ocean in her chariot, drawn by four white horses and attended by cupids, while Night and Sleep sink away.

Figs. 40, 41 and 42.—“Sophas.” Fig. 43.—Lower part of Chair, by Marot. Figs. 44 and 45.—Lambrequins, by Marot.

Marot’s armchairs owe their effect almost entirely to upholstery: the framework is certainly solid, heavy and ungainly. He prefers carved feet of animals’ claws 277to the popular Dutch bulb. A typical form of the seat and legs appears in Fig. 43. The top of the back is usually a straight line, though, if the chair is designed for a prince or noble, the centre sometimes rises in a carved crown or coronet. The woodwork is generally gilded.

Marot’s sconces usually had only one candle socket (see Plate XLIX). When the mirror was of silver, or any burnished metal, its surface was generally convex. When it was of glass it was flat, but very often the edges were bevelled. The three examples on Plate XLIX show the characteristic ornamental details of mascarons, floral scrolls, and heavy chutes of the bell-flower or wheat-ear. The same ornamentation, intermingled with “pommes,” geometrical lines and broken scrolls, distinguishes the two large mirrors above. Other handsome oval and rectangular mirrors appear on Plate L. The lower one on the right, with cornucopias disgorging chutes of fruit, bears the crossed double L of Louis XIV, with a royal crown, and therefore must belong to Marot’s early period before he went to Holland. The mascarons and human figures on the other mirrors on this plate also belong to the early Louis Quatorze period.

On Plate LI are two more mirrors, large and small, one above an inlaid console table and three candle or candelabra stands. These are interesting as showing the extent to which Marot made use of caryatides and swags in decorative work. It will be noticed that his Junos, Floras and Venuses are functional as well as graceful and decorative. With their heads and arms they have real work to do and weights to support.

Tables of Marot’s design are represented on Plate 278LII, which also gives a series of eight mascarons. Plate LIII shows three of Marot’s tall clocks, with details of decoration and designs for key handles. The little frieze of designs for keyholes at the top of the Plate show that the forms of china-ware were even invading goldsmiths’ work.

It will be noticed that the grandfather’s clock in Marot’s mind was somewhat more ornate than the modern idea of that timepiece. Chippendale owed a heavy debt to Marot’s forms of clocks and candlestands.

Marot’s designs for rooms show the limit to which porcelain could be used as a decorative feature. There are brackets, brackets everywhere. Vases of different shapes and sizes stand on the ledges, oval, circular or straight, above the doors and stud the cornices; but it is the chimney-pieces that serve, as the tiered dressoir did in Mediaeval days for plate, in the display of porcelain. The corner chimney-pieces of Hampton Court with their diminishing shelves give some faint idea of the many plates of Marot’s designs. Some of these show brackets and shelves that support hundreds of cups, saucers, pots, bowls, bottles and vases. In one extreme case more than three hundred pieces may be counted on the chimneypiece and hearth alone. These are not merely suggestions, for we have evidence that, in Holland, rooms decorated in this style really existed. Thus one poet sings:

Of The Porcelain Room
.... Geheel zijn huis, ja zelfs het klein gemak,
Blonk als een diamant—duizend fijne kopjes
Vercierden ’t kabinet, hoe veel japanse popjes,
Uit amber, zeekoraal en roosverw paerlemoer,
Vervulden ’t groot salet.
(His whole house, even his small parlour,
Shone like a diamond—a thousand small cups
Decorated this parlour; how many Japanese figures (dolls)
Of amber, sea-coral and pink mother-of-pearl
Filled the big room!)

Plate XLVIII.Bed and Bedroom, by Marot.

279On Plate L two brackets will be noticed, for the support respectively of one and three China jars.

A typical English mansion of this period is Holme Lacy in Herefordshire. Though dating from Tudor days, it was partly rebuilt and decorated in the reign of William III. The principal apartments are well proportioned, and are embellished with richly stuccoed ceilings, with compartments of flowers and other designs. The “saloon” is particularly remarkable for its ceiling of pendent flowers and fruits, and carvings by Grinling Gibbons over the chimney-piece. Superb carvings by this great master, representing birds, shell-fish, fruit and flowers, are to be seen in all of the rooms on the ground floor, which communicate with one another by folding doors. The gardens, too, are noticeable, for they were also laid out in the style of King William’s day, and contain yew hedges of extraordinary height and thickness.

At this period English and Dutch taste were identical. This is only what we might expect when we consider the bonds that united the reigning houses and nobility of the two countries. Mary, the eldest daughter of Charles I, married the Prince of Orange; and their son, William, married Mary, the daughter of James II. During this period, also, some of the English nobility went to the Low Countries for wives. In 1650, the Earl of Derby married Dorothea Helena, a daughter of John 280Baron de Rupa, in Holland. She was a Maid of Honour of another ill-fated Stuart, Elizabeth, the beautiful Queen of Bohemia. Baron Colepepper married Margaret van Hesse, and the Earl of Arlington married another Dutch woman, Isabella, daughter of Henry of Nassau, Lord of Auverquerque, in the early days of the Restoration. The Earl of Bellomont married Isabella’s sister. The Earl of Ailesbury, in 1700, married Charlotte d’Argenteau, Countess d’Esseneux and Baroness de Melobroeck in Flanders: and the list might be extended. Incidentally we may note that, in 1646, the Earl of Berkeley married Elizabeth Massingberd, the daughter of the treasurer of the East India Company.

It has already been noted that Charles II was hospitably entertained in Holland at his sister’s court during part of his exile. We have also seen that James II was a connoisseur in Oriental art products. When the daughter of the latter, Mary, married her cousin William and settled down in Holland, her mind was fully receptive to Dutch tastes and ways of living. When she became Queen of England, on the exile of her father, it was a Dutch palace into which she transformed Hampton Court, that splendid enforced gift of Wolsey’s to Henry VIII. The English student, therefore, need not cross the Channel to study Dutch interior decoration and furniture of the close of the seventeenth century. The majority of the rooms and grounds are still practically in the same condition as they were when inhabited by William and Mary, under whose direct orders the work was designed and supervised by Marot and Sir Christopher Wren. A considerable amount of the Marot furniture still survives there. Defoe tells us in his Tour (1724):

Plate XLIX.Mirrors and Sconces, by Marot.

281“Her Majesty (Mary) had here a fine apartment (Hampton Court), with a set of lodgings for her private retreat only, but most exquisitely furnished, particularly a fine chintz bed, then a great curiosity; another of her own work while in Holland, very magnificent, and several others; and here also was Her Majesty’s fine collection of delft ware, which indeed was very large and fine; and here was also a vast stock of fine china-ware, the like whereof was not then to be seen in England; the long gallery, as above, was filled with this china, and every other place where it could be placed with advantage.”

Although an Englishwoman, Mary had all the virtues and tastes of a Dutch vrouw. She kept her husband informed of all that happened from day to day, bewailed his absence and neglect, and busied herself and her Maids of Honour with needlework, and, perhaps, with tenderly dusting her cherished porcelain. When in London, she used to spend many an hour and all her pocket money shopping at the India houses and in the New Exchange. She set the fashion for china-mania, and may well have inspired Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s lines:

“What shall I do to spend the hateful day ...
Strait then I’ll dress and take my wonted range
Thro’ India shops, to Motteux’s, or the Change,
Where the tall jar erects its stately pride,
With antique shapes in China’s azure dyed;
There careless lies a rich brocade unrolled,
Here shines a cabinet with burnished gold.
But then, alas! I must be forced to pay,
And bring no penn’orths, not a fan away!”

282Hampton Court was remodelled under Mary’s direction. It almost entirely lost its Tudor character, and became characteristically Dutch in appearance. Sir Christopher Wren’s talents were called into requisition to design the shelves, cornices and tiered corner chimney-pieces that are still to be seen there. Verrio was employed to adorn the staircases and ceilings with his gaudy frescoes. Grinling Gibbons, a Dutchman, whom Evelyn had discovered, was responsible for the carvings that even to-day are the admiration and despair of the woodworker. The fish-ponds and gardens were laid out in the formal Dutch taste, with fountains, clipped trees, hedges, avenues, geometrical beds, an orangery and an aviary of tropical birds. The furniture was due to Marot and Wren.

The comparatively small amount of furniture now to be seen in the show-rooms of Hampton Court belongs mainly to this period. It consists principally of chairs, stools (tabourets), beds, card-tables, mirrors and chandeliers.

Many of these specimens are extremely interesting, showing the Marot taste. Of the latter, there are stools, chairs and tables with the heavy scroll foot and stretchers, the latter joining in the centre and supporting there a carved ornament; other tables have four scroll supports and stand on bulb feet. Some of the stools and tabourets have gilded woodwork. Among the later style we may note a chair in William III’s Presence Chamber, with tall back, jar-shaped splat, cabriole leg, hoof feet and straining-rails, the front one higher than the other; and also two card-tables in the King’s Drawing-room, with slender legs ending in the hoof foot, and the tops supplied with wells for the counters and slight depressions for the candles.

Plate L.Mirrors, by Marot.

283About thirty handsome looking-glasses of the period are there. Many of them are pier-glasses hung, of course, between the windows. One of the most noticeable of these is a fine pier-glass in William III’s State Bedroom, dating from his time. This has a border of cut blue glass, the edges are bevelled, and the centre contains the monogram W. R., surmounted by the crown in blue and white glass. A similar mirror hangs over the fireplace.

Another looking-glass with a blue glass frame hangs between the windows in Queen Mary’s Closet.

Another beautiful chandelier hangs in William III’s Presence Chamber: this is of silver, with eight lower and four upper arms. It is decorated with the harp, thistle, etc. A still more ornate one hangs in the Queen’s Audience Chamber. This is a magnificent combination of silver and crystal, with silver sea-horses and lions supporting the silver branches, crystal balls and drops, and a crystal crown on top.

The mantelpieces are extremely interesting, as many of them are of the old inverted funnel shape, and are supplied with tiers of shelves—sometimes as many as six—for the reception of ornaments. Upon these now stands a good deal of blue and white china, many pieces of which belonged to Queen Mary. Pieces that are known to have belonged to her are two blue and white jars and two goddesses in Queen Mary’s Closet, and two goddesses and two vases, about eighteen inches high, on the mantelpiece of William III’s Presence Chamber.

284Charles II, who, while a royal refugee, spent much time in Holland, had acquired the new taste. It was there, doubtless, that he saw visions of wealth in the Indies that later led him to grant the English East India Company a charter, and to embark on a disastrous and inglorious war, which resulted in London hearing foreign guns for the first time since England was a nation. His keen appreciation of Oriental works of art, however, was somewhat dulled when his bride, Catherine of Braganza, brought him a shipload of cabinets and ceramics in lieu of the dowry her mother had promised, although Evelyn, in his description of Hampton Court (1662), says: “The Queen brought over with her from Portugal such Indian cabinets as had never before been seen here.”

It is frequently asserted with apparent authority that Mary carried the Dutch taste for porcelain and the manufactures of the Far East into England; but, as we have seen, this idea is not well founded. Herself a china-maniac, she merely set the royal stamp of approval on contemporary taste, and made Hampton Court a model of the style refugié. That style dominated English and Dutch homes before she heartlessly danced in the Palace of Whitehall from which her father had fled.

Hampton Court, remodelled under her directions, was not completed till 1693. Many documents show that the style refugié was popular in English aristocratic homes before that date.

Plate LI.Mirrors, Console Table and Candlesticks, by Marot.

Under William and Mary, London swarmed with Dutch merchants and refugee Huguenot arts and craftsmen, and was almost as much of an Eastern bazaar as 285Amsterdam was. Mary set the pace, and wealth and aristocracy gladly followed. As an example of the vogue, we cannot do better than take the diary of the wealthy John Hervey, afterwards Earl of Bristol, and quote a few entries of expenditure.

He was always buying porcelain and other Oriental wares “for dear wife.” On July 6, 1689, he notes: “Paid to Katherine Scott for 12 leaves of cut Japan skreens, 2 pieces of India damask and 6 Dutch chairs, £65.” In the following July, he also bought from John van Colima, a Dutchman, who had probably followed William III to London, “a parcel of old China for £3 2s. 6d.” Though the Earl dealt more extensively with “Medina ye Jew,” “Leeds ye mercer,” “Seamer ye goldsmith” and many “India houses” in the New Exchange, we find him still patronizing the Dutchman after the death of his first wife, as is shown by the following entries: “1696, Jan. 11: Paid Calama, ye Dutchman in Green Street, for a parcell of china for my dear wife, £31 8s. 4d. May 4: Calamar, ye Dutchman, for another parcel of China, £10 4s.” Two years later he also pays “John Van Collema, for an Indian trunk, £35.” Another Dutchman who enjoyed this nobleman’s patronage was “Mr. Gerreit Johnson, ye Cabinett-maker,” who, on May 25, 1696, was paid £70 “for ye black sett of glass, table and stands, and for ye glasses, etc., over ye chimneys and elsewhere in my dear wife’s apartment.”

Gerreit Johnson, whom the Earl patronized, was a fashionable cabinet-maker who made the china-cabinets for Queen Mary that were placed in a room at Hampton Court called “the Delft Ware Closett.” It is interesting 286to note that the mirrors and cabinets in the Countess of Bristol’s boudoir had black japanned framework.

His diary and expense account shows that his purchases of furniture and bric-à-brac faithfully reflected the prevailing taste for Oriental wares and the style refugié. He did not exclusively patronize Dutchmen.

In 1688, he paid “to Frenoye, the silkman, for the fringe of the bed, edgings for the window curtains, etc., £155”; “to the joyner who made the chairs, stools and squabs for my wife, £19”; and “for gold and crimson fringe for the India bed quilt, £17.”

In 1689, he bought “for dear wife” a white teapot and basin, £4 16s. 9d.; two china basins, £1 1s. 6d.; an India trunk, £7; India quilt for a bed, £38; a “brockadal hanging in my wife’s anti-chamber, £11 10s.”; and “to a French varnisher for ten chairs, a couch and two tabourettes, £12.”

In 1690, his purchases included “silver andirons, for my dear wife her closett chimney, £13 5s.“; “a glass screen, £1 1s. 6d.”; “two pair of basins for dear wife, £1 12s.“; “a large China punch-bowl, with a large jarr and two white cupps, £3 5s.“; “sett of cupps and saucers, £2”; six other saucers, 10s.; “two china beakers, £2 11s.“; two great jarrs of china and two smaller ones, “with one very little one,” £7 3s.; a parcel of old china, £21; another parcel of old china, £6 10s.; “another sett of old china for dear wife, £22”; “a pair of old china roul wagons” (large blue and white vases), £7 10s. 6d.; a pair of china cupps and a little jarr, £1 6s.; for a china teapot basin, £1 1s. 6d.; an old china bottle and two china dishes, £1 15s.; “at a curiosity shop, 10s.“; “a rich piece of India atlas, £13 10s.”; “a parcel of Indian things, £5 7s. 6d.”; and “a pair of china jarrs, £1 4s.

Plate LII.Tables and Mascarons, by Maret.

287In 1691, he bought a “Jappan travelling strong water cellar, £5 7s. 6d.”; a “Persian carpet (all of silk) to lay under a bed, and an old china roulwaggon, 22 guineys”; “a piece of blue Indian stuff, £2 15s.”; and “a candle-skreen, £1 6s.” (The “roulwaggon” is a kind of vase.)

In 1692, he enters “two china rice potts for dear wife, £5”; “a china jarr, £2 10s.”; and “a parcel of china, £2 14s.

It is evident from the above that at the close of the seventeenth century, Huguenot, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, English and Dutch artists and artisans had combined to produce a style, the leading spirit of which in England and Holland was Marot.

A noticeable fact in connexion with the European craze for Asiatic art products is that, though the English and Dutch highly admired the native wares, the European merchants sent out their own patterns and designs for furniture and ceramics. It is even maintained that the famous “Willow Plate” was the design of a Dutchman. The evidence of the practice of exploiting foreign labour in the field of home taste is overwhelming; and, as the century advanced, the guilds, city companies and other trades unions in England, France and Holland grew more and more restive under the burden of “Chinese cheap labour.” Mazarin was one of the early enthusiasts in France to encourage Eastern importations.

In the Mémoirs of La Grande Mademoiselle (1658), we read: “The Cardinal (Mazarin) behaved in a very 288delightful and galant manner. He took the two Queens (Anne of Austria and Henrietta Maria) and the Princess of England and myself into a gallery that was filled with all that could be imagined in the way of precious stones, jewels, furniture, stuffs and everything beautiful from China; crystal chandeliers, mirrors, tables and cabinets of all kinds, silver vessels, perfumes, gloves, ribbons and fans.”

Towards the close of the century the craze for Oriental wares had assumed such proportions that in France Louis XIV enacted sumptuary laws to protect native industries; and in Holland and England the artisans grumbled bitterly over the hard times occasioned by the vogue. The Eastern workmen accepted patterns and supplied orders that natives of Western Europe could not venture to undertake. The guilds and city companies admitted the superiority of Oriental work, and cried aloud for protection. Thus, in 1700, the Joiners’ Company addressed a petition against the importation of manufactured cabinet work from the East Indies. In this they state that they have “of late years arrived at so great a perfection as exceeds all Europe.”

“But several merchants and others,” they continue, “have procured to be made in London of late years and sent over to the East Indies patterns and models of all forms of cabinet goods, and have yearly returned from thence such quantities of cabinet wares, manufactured there after the English fashion, that the said trade in England is in great danger of being utterly ruined, etc., etc.”

The following goods, manufactured in India, have been imported within these four years, viz.:

Plate LIII.Clocks and Details, by Marot.

244 cabinets.
655 tops for stands.
6,580 tea-tables.
818 lacquered boards.
428 chests.
597 sconces.
70 trunks.
589 looking-glasses.
52 screens.
4,120 dressing, comb and powder-boxes.

The Japanners also brought their grievances before the authorities in 1710. The taste for japanned goods had forced them to endeavour to make worthy imitations for home consumption, and they thought they were entitled to patronage and tariff protection. The evils are fully indicated in the preamble to their petition:

“Many of the artificers (cabinet-makers, turners, goldbeaters and coppersmiths) have brought (the curious and ingenious art and mystery of japanning, so much improved in England of late years) to so great perfection as to exceed all manner of Indian lacquer, and to equal the right japan itself, by enduring the fire in the boiling of liquors.

“Also it will, if encouraged, vastly improve both the wood and iron trades for cisterns, monteiths, punch-bowls, tea-tables and several sorts of ironware, which would be useless if not improved by our English lacquer.

“But the merchants, sending over English patterns and models to India, and bringing such quantities of Indian lacquered wares (especially within the last two years), great numbers of families are by that means reduced to miserable poverty.”

The trade with the Indies thus encountered bitter opposition, and many tracts were published calling attention 290to the alleged grievances of native workmen from its prosecution. In 1700, Reasons, a tract, tells us: “The charter of the East India Company was confirmed by King Charles II in the thirteenth year of his reign, and the law for permitting bullion to be exported was made soon after. In 1672 or 1673, several artificers were sent over by the Company with great quantity of English patterns to teach the Indians how to manufacture goods to make them vendible in England and the rest of the European markets. After which began the trade in manufactured goods from the Indies.”

In 1699, also, a bitter wail went up in a broadside entitled Prince Butler’s Tale:

When first the India trade began,
And ships beyond the tropics ran
In quest of various drugs and spices,
And sundry other strange devices.
Saltpetre, drugs, spice and such trading
Composed the bulk of all their lading:
Bengals and silks of India’s making
Our merchants then refused to take in,
Knowing it would their country ruin
And might prove to their own undoing.
Nor did they carry gold or bullion
To fetch home what supplants our woollen;
Nor were this nation fond to wear
Such Indian toys which cost so dear.
Then were we clad in woollen stuffs,
With cambric bands and lawn ruffs,
Or else in silk which was imported
For woollen goods which we exported;
Which silk our English weavers bought
And into various figures wrought.
That scarce a child was to be seen
Without Say frock, that was of green.
Our hangings, beds, our coats and gowns
Made of our wool in clothing towns,
This nation then was rich and wealthy
And in a state which we call’d healthy.
But since the men of Gath arose,
And for their chief Goliath chose,
291And since that mighty giant’s reign
Whose chiefest aim was private gain,
This trade was drove on by such measures
As soon exhausted much our treasures;
For then our chiefest artists went
With patterns, and with money sent,
To make and purchase Indian ware,
For which this nation pays full dear.
Then by great gifts of finest touches
To lords and ladies, dukes and duchess,
So far prevailed as set the fashion
Which, plague-like, soon spread o’er the nation.
Our ladies all were set a gadding,
After these toys they ran a madding;
And nothing then would please their fancies,
Nor Dolls, nor Joans, nor wanton Nancies
Unless it was of Indians’ making;
And if ‘twas so, ‘twas wondrous taking.
This antick humour so prevailed,
Tho’ many ‘gainst it greatly railed,
‘Mongst all degrees of female kind
That nothing else could please their mind.
Tell ‘em the following of such fashion
Wou’d beggar and undo the nation
And ruin all our labouring poor
That must or starve, or beg at door,
They’d not at all regard your story,
But in their painted garments glory;
And such as were not Indian proof
They scorn’d, despised, as paltry stuff;
And like gay peacocks proudly strut it,
When in our streets along they foot it.
       *       *       *       *       *
And happy thrice would England be,
If, while they’re living, we could see
Our noble ladies but beginning
To wear our wool of finest spinning,
Or in such silks our workmen make,
For which our merchants cloth to take;
Which soon would bring them in such fashion
As they’d be worn throughout this nation,
By all degrees, and sex, and ages,
From highest peers to lowest pages;
Nor would the meanest trull, or besses,
Delight to wear these Indian dresses,
Which certainly would profit bring
To them, their tenants, and their king.

292To show how enormous was the trade with the East Indies at the end of the century, we need only examine the records of sales of the cargoes of three ships at the East India House in 1700. In this we omit all mention of sugar, tea, coffee, bezoar stones, ambergris, drugs of all sorts, sweetmeats, gems, musk, aloes, carpets, rugs, and all kinds of woven silk and cotton goods. The other goods, “besides great quantities unsold of toyes and small goods,” fetched over £200,000, which at the present day might represent three-quarters of a million sterling:

China-ware pieces 150,000
Fans 38,557
Lacquer’d sticks for fans 13,470
Lacquer’d trunks, escretors, bowls, cups, dishes, etc. 10,500
Lacquer’d tables inlaid 189
Lacquer’d panels in frames, painted and carved for rooms 47
Lacquer’d boards 178
Lacquer’d brushes 3,099
Lacquer’d tables not inlaid 277
Lacquer’d fans for fire 174
Lacquer’d boards for screens 54
Screens set in frames 71
Paper josses 1,799
Shells painted double gilt 281
Paper painted for fans 377
Images of copper, stone, wood and earth 600
Pictures 669
Brass and iron leaves for lanthorns  
Brass hinges in chests  
Embroideries for curtains, valloons and counterpanes  

Among the textiles that were imported from the East Indies, Persia and China at the end of the seventeenth century, and used for curtains, upholstery, cushions, etc., were many varieties of wrought silks, “dyed Bengals,” and printed or stained “callicoes,” known under the following names:

Bengalis or Nilas.
China silks.
Checquered silks.
Canvas bolts.
Cuttannees, Striped.
Cuttannees, Flowered.
Cuttannees, Wrought.
Chints, Serunge.
Chints, Caddy.
Chints, Surrat.
Chints, Brampore.
Chints, Culme.
Chints, Pattanna,
Chints, Gulconda.
Chints, Wrought.
Damask nankeens.
Elatches, Lingua.
Ginghams coloured.
Gelongs, printed and painted.
Gelongs, striped.
Goachon Cherulas.
Guiney stripes.
Herba Taffeties.
Herba Lungees.
Longes Flowered.
Mahobutt Bannes.
Mocha silks.
Nankeen Taffeties.
Phota Lungees.
Peniascoes or Penasses.
Romalls silk.
Romalls cotton.
Romalls serunge.
Sattins plain.
Satin nankeens.
Silk Lungees.
Taffety nankeens.

The above list is copied from a tract protesting against foreign importations that was printed about 1700.



Lacquer—Oriental Methods—European Importations and Limitations—Prices—An Ambassador’s Report—Singerie, Chinoiserie and Rocaille—The Dutch Decadence—Interiors of Cornelis Troost—Mirrors—Wealth and Luxury of Dutch Merchants—Court Contrast—Tapestry—Brussels as a Centre of Art and Luxury—Eighteenth Century Furniture—The Empire Style in the Low Countries—Dutch Homes of the Nineteenth Century—The Maarken House and Furniture—Typical Farmhouse and Furniture—Country Seats and Town Houses—Hindeloopen Houses and Furniture—A Friesland House—Canal Boat Furniture—Dutch Love of Symmetry—Collectors and Collections.

So far little attention has been paid in these pages to lacquer, though important articles of household furniture that owed their beauty and value to this species of ornamentation have appeared in inventories and diaries under the designation of “vernish,” “japan” or “japanned.” Sometimes this work was referred to as “black” merely, as in the case of John Hervey’s “dear wife’s” boudoir.

The Oriental method of lacquering requires a vast amount of patience and skill. After the wood has been smoothly planed, it is covered with a thin sheet of paper or silk gauze. Over this is spread a thick coating of buffalo’s gall and powdered red sandstone. When dry, this is rubbed with wax and polished, or washed over 296with gum and chalk. The varnish is laid on with a flat brush. The article is now thoroughly dried, and again moistened and polished with a piece of soft slate, or the stalks of a special grass. The workman then repeats the process, giving it a second coating of lacquer, and again dries and polishes it. Sometimes as many as eighteen or twenty coatings are applied, but never less than three.

The lacquer used by the Chinese and Japanese is derived from the juice of the “varnish tree.” This juice, a natural secretion, is acrid, and soon hardens into a black resin. To obtain it, pieces of bamboo are inserted into the bark and allowed to remain all night, for the juice flows more freely at night than during the day. This is boiled with equal parts of oil obtained from the fruit of the mimusops elengi. The chief trees that yield this gum are the black varnish tree (melanorrhoea usitata) and the Japan varnish tree (rhus vernicifera).

There are grades in lacquer. Lacquer on a gold ground is the most highly prized; and the first examples of this kind that reached Europe were gifts to Dutch officials from Japanese princes. This sort of lacquer is seldom found on furniture, with the exception of delicate little boxes and occasionally plaques that were inserted into furniture.

Lacquered wares were brought into Holland, England and France in large quantities all through the seventeenth century, as the bills of lading (see page 292) show. We have seen that the European merchants sent out designs for forms and decorations of Oriental porcelain; 297and they did the same for carved ebony, teak and ivory, and especially lacquer. Many of the screens, clocks, bedsteads, cabinets, panels, tables, etc., of the period show unmistakable signs of Oriental attempts to supply European demands. In textiles also, especially in screen-fillings, and other textiles used in upholstery for couches, chairs and hangings, we frequently find views of Dutch towns and social life, indoors and outdoors.

The framework of large pieces of furniture was sometimes both carved on the edges, and the flat surfaces were lacquered. Sometimes the frames of screens were of carved rosewood (home-made), and the apertures were filled with genuine Eastern textiles. Tables of inlaid ivory and mother-of-pearl were also in general vogue.

Lacquered furniture was highly prized and very costly during the days of William of Orange, our “Dutch William.” “A grand Japan cabinet” (probably a wardrobe) in the bedroom of a Countess in 1675 was valued at £200 in present money. In 1698 an “Indian trunk” is listed at £35 in money of that date. In valuations that might be perhaps multiplied fivefold to-day in actual cash, apart from appreciation in art or sentimental value, we find also: a pair of India cut Japan screens, £60; a black bureau, £6; a Japan scrutoire, £60; a Japan cabinet, £35; and India-cut Japan frame and glasses, £10 10s.

We have seen from the complaint of the japanners in England that strong attempts had been made to imitate the home demands; and considerable success had rewarded the efforts of the artists and cabinetmakers. The trouble was that they could not obtain 298the proper lacquer or “vernish” in England, France or Holland for many years. The Dutch, holding such a dominant position in the East Indies, practically throughout the seventeenth century, naturally had the best chance to discover the secret of the constitution and manufacture of the far-famed varnish. They tried to reproduce the Oriental product of lacquer just as persistently as they did the porcelain with delft. Good as their imitations were, however, they could not produce a lacquer that could compete with the Japanese any more than the English could. They used native varnishes, therefore, and produced beautiful work which, alas! was not destined to last. The surface soon cracked, scaled off and left the framework decrepit and friendless,—relegated to the attic, kitchen or wood pile.

As Dutch enterprise led the way in imitations of Oriental wares, of porcelain in delft, so also imitations of lacquer first found fame in the Netherlands. A Dutchman named Huygens was famous for his japanned work early in the eighteenth century. He was called to France, and was probably largely instrumental in the invention or perfection of the celebrated Vernis Martin. This was a species of lacquer that beautifies many sumptuous examples of Louis Quinze furniture, and is highly prized by collectors.

The character of lacquered and other Oriental wares obtainable early in the eighteenth century may be gathered from the report of an ambassador to Pekin in 1721. Among other things he says:

Plate LIV.Interior, by Cornelis Troost.


“The most valuable furniture of lackered ware, viz., cabinets, chairs, tables, baskets, and other things of that 299sort, as also the richest porcelain ware, come from Japan. For when the Emperor sends any person to Japan in a public character, most of the princes and great men of the court seldom fail to engage him to bring them some of those things at his return....

“After the lackered ware of Japan, that of the province of Fokien, is looked upon as the best; but none of it comes to Pekin because the great lords of China oppress the merchants to a great degree and take their goods from them upon many frivolous pretences, without leaving them the least hopes of ever obtaining any payment.

“They have at Pekin a people dexterous enough at lackering, but their works fall short of those of Japan and Fokien, which may be attributed to the difference of climate; and it is for this reason that the lackered work made at Pekin is always much cheaper than the other. Nevertheless, the lackered work made at Pekin infinitely exceeds any work of that kind made in Europe.... The European merchants carry away from Canton raw silk; damasks wrought according to draughts furnished to them; wrought silks; lackered ware; tea, green and bohea; badians, a seed having a taste like aniseed; canes and china-ware, made according to models given them.

“For the rest they carry to China from Europe, and bring back from China, a very great variety of toys and different sorts of curiosities, upon which they make a very considerable profit; but these are so numerous that it is not possible to furnish a complete specification of them.”

During the eighteenth century Dutch and Belgian 300furniture, in common with English and German, humbly submitted to the dictates of the great French designers. The Singerie, Chinoiserie and Rocaille work of Watteau, Boucher, Meissonnier, Oppenord, Cressent, Huet, Gillot and others were welcomed and adapted to local tastes in the Low Countries. Many of the most beautiful cabinets and china-closets of the Régence and Louis Quinze period that are preserved in Continental museums owe their origin to the skilled workmen of Belgium, especially of the School of Lille. Many fine specimens of the decorative work of this period may be seen in the Lille Museum. A typical example from Liège appears in Fig. 46. This shows the use as an ornamental feature of the broken curve, the auricle, a more sober descendant of the style auriculaire. The use of this ornament encountered rabid opposition in Regency days in France, England and the Low Countries, but it forced its way into favour shoulder to shoulder with the Chinoiserie, Singerie and Rocaille ornamentation. This double-bodied cabinet is made for the preservation and display of delft and porcelain. Ledges at the top are also provided for urns and jars as decorative accessories.

It may be interesting to see what a typical china-cabinet contained at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In 1700, we note one of carved walnut with four doors. In the lower compartment there were twenty vases of red India ware, a porcelain vinaigrette, a cup of enamelled glass, a little horn cup and a multitude of miscellaneous curios. Another cabinet having two lower doors, a middle drawer and one glass door above, contained fine delft vases, two cups and saucers, a big faïence jug and two little ones, six big rare sea-shells and other Oriental curios.

Fig. 46.—Cabinet from Liège. Fig. 47.—Dutch Mirror Frame.

301Dutch art was now in its decadence; it had lost its pre-eminence. The French artists set the fashion. The painter who is commonly held responsible for the decadence is Gérard de Lairesse (Liège, 1641–1711). He shows all the technique of the old school, and arranges his compositions in accordance with the laws of Italian taste, but he is decidedly artificial. His contemporaries and successors are feeble imitators of the Great and Little masters, and those who have the greatest reputations are miniaturists and still-life painters.

For Dutch interiors we now have to go to the pastels of Cornelis Troost (Amsterdam, 1697–1750), whose compositions gained for him the name of the “Dutch Hogarth.” Two reproductions of interiors by this artist are shown in Plates LIV and LV. The chairs, tables, sideboards, candlestands, chandeliers, buffets and chimney-pieces in these pictures in nowise differ from those used in England during the early Georgian era.

Dutch taste ran to heaviness and over-loading in ornamentation. During the Louis Quinze period, Schubler was more in favour in wealthy Dutch houses, as he was in Germany, than were the French designers of a lighter touch.

A handsome example of Dutch carving of the early eighteenth century is shown in the mirror frame in Fig. 47. This is of carved and gilded wood, representing scrolls, leaves, flowers, a mascaron and a female figure issuing from one of the scrolls. “This kind of mirror, made to be hung upon the woodwork or tapestries of 302the rooms, is often of a rather heavy and inelegant execution,” writes a critic, who referring to this special example continues, “but in this specimen where the outlines are so accentuated the effect is quite happy. The hooks intended for the metal sconces in the lower part of the frame should be noticed.”

Holland was profiting so much by her mercantile ventures and, perhaps, unscrupulous trade dealings as to arouse bitter envy, jealousy and animosity. The famous despatch of Canning:

“In matters of business the fault of the Dutch
Lies in giving too little and asking too much,”

would have been investigated a century earlier by both English and French merchants if they could have forced their Governments’ hands. Thus in The Trade and Navigation of Great Britain Considered the following occurs:

“Trade with Holland: the balance paid us is thrice as much as we receive from either Portugal or Spain. But when we consider the great number of smuggling ships that are employed between this country and Holland, and the supply we have from them of pepper and all other sorts of India spice, with callicoes, muslins, India silks and romals, and other manufactures of India, coffee, tea, China-ware, and very great quantities of Hollands and fine lace, etc., it is apt to furnish the thinking part of mankind with other notions.”

Plate LV.Interior, by Cornelis Troost.


The Dutch merchants were able to indulge all their artistic and luxurious tastes in furnishing their houses. Some of them were wildly lavish and ostentatious in interior decoration and furniture years before the frenzied 303finance of the Mississippi Scheme and South Sea Bubble, when valets became millionaires while they slept and senselessly squandered their gains in a month. As early as 1709, in Shaw’s Travels Through Holland, we read: “Glorious monuments of the excessive wealth acquired in trade are to be seen at Mr. Tripp’s and Pinto, the rich Jew’s houses; in this last is a room pav’d with ducatoons, or crown-pieces, and these laid edgewise. But, indeed, the whole new Heer Graff is fronted with houses like the palaces of princes, where glittering guildings, exquisite paintings, rich china, screens, gold, pearls, diamonds enchant you, and rival the apartments of monarchs in haughty magnificence.”

It is no exaggeration to say that the establishments of opulent merchants of the Low Countries at this period could match and sometimes even outshine those of princely courts. Life was very dull in Belgium at the court of the Austrian princess who ruled the Netherlands when George II came to the throne. Marie Elizabeth was forty-five when her brother gave her the rule of the Low Countries in 1725. She was very pious, and eschewed all gaiety. The only description of a festival given during her reign is that of the Fête de l’oiseau given in Brussels, October 10, 1729, on the occasion of the birth of Monseigneur le Dauphin (born September 4, 1729), and was written by the minister from France, Chaillon de Joinville, who arranged it, to the Marquis de Chauvelin. After the ball they went to supper at half-past ten, and we learn that “In the ‘grande gallerie’ there was a long table of ninety covers with two large buffets at the two ends, and in the balcony of the ‘gallerie304there were four trumpeters and a drummer, who played all through supper; and there were eighteen instrumental players for the ball.”

The Flemish tapestries of the eighteenth century are of slight importance, for the great workshops of the Low Countries have now fallen into evil days. At the beginning of this century, Brussels has only eight manufacturers, fifty-three looms and about a hundred and fifty workmen, and by 1768 only one manufacturer is left—Jacques van der Borcht. The last loom perishes at his death in 1794. The Oudenarde looms are stilled for ever in 1772, and those of Ghent about the same time.

Flemish workmen are, however, still employed at Beauvais, of which Oudry becomes director in 1726; and their services are valued throughout Europe. Adrian Neusse of Oudenarde, a former workman at Beauvais, establishes a workshop at Gisors in 1703, and Jean Baert and his son one at Cambrai in 1724. Until 1738, when Boucher takes charge of them, Lille’s workshops are directed by Wernier of Brussels. When the first high-warp loom was established at Madrid in 1720, the first director was Jacques van der Goten, a tapestry-weaver of Antwerp, who aided in founding that of Seville in the same year; and the tapestry manufactory, founded by Peter the Great in St. Petersburg, employed workmen from Brussels in 1777–8.

During the eighteenth century, tapestry is put to a new use, which makes it especially important in connexion with the study of furniture. In the Middle Ages, we found it was a custom for the rich to throw 305over their carved chairs and benches, sumptuous pieces of tapestry and other handsome textiles; in this age we now find the weavers making covers for the backs and seats of chairs, sofas and screens, the patterns or pictures for which are specially designed. Throughout Europe, the drawing-rooms are furnished with these beautiful sets of tapestry furniture, always consisting of two sofas, armchairs and chairs. This new fashion practically made the fortune of the Beauvais manufactory. The most delicate pictures, artistically framed, were woven: landscapes, scenes from Æsop’s Fables, pastorals, emblems, mythological stories, baskets of fruit, baskets of flowers, garlands of flowers, bird cages, shepherds and shepherdesses, monkeys, swings, children playing, animals, birds, etc., etc.

The majestic style of Le Brun gives place to the airy charm of Watteau, Boucher and Van Loo. The Hunts of Louis XV, The Adventures of Don Quixote, The Gardens of Armida, Aurora and Cephalus, Venus on the Waters, Venus at the Forge of Vulcan, Cupid and Psyche, Children Playing, The Swing, Genii of the Arts, Endymion, Rustic Festivals, Fortune Tellers, Fishing, Rural Amusements, scenes from Molière’s comedies, Indian hangings, Chinese hangings and scenes in which monkeys appear in grotesque attitudes and costumes, supplant heroic triumphs and religious pictures as subjects for wall decorations.

Some of the last historical pieces that were made in Brussels were The Campaigns of the Duke of Marlborough, The History of the Duchy of Brabant and Victories of Prince Eugene.

306The Flemings of the early eighteenth century still maintained their ancient eminence in Decorative Art. Their weavers were still sought after, and their craftsmen produced many pieces of carved furniture of the Régence and Louis Quinze periods that are still preserved and admired. The schools of Liège, Brussels and Lille (the latter just across the border in France, being practically still in Belgium, as originally it was) were famous for the high excellence of workmanship produced. Jacques Verberckt, who was born in Antwerp and died in Paris in 1771, was accepted at the Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and executed or planned the greatest number of decorative sculpture made during the reign of Louis XV at Versailles. He was also employed by the Marquise de Pompadour to decorate her château of Bellevue. Verberckt worked with a delicate touch in marble, wood, or metal.

Brussels was an important centre of industry and art throughout the century. Its citizens included many men of wealth who took interest in art, science and literature.

In his Journey in the Year 1793 through Flanders, Brabant and Germany, the Rev. C. Este says: “The town is tolerably well built as to the walls of the houses; but their windows and doors are after the manner of the French. The lower windows are also deformed with iron bars, offensive even beyond the eye, as implying something wrong in the place, either from real danger, or from false fear.

“The buildings at Bruxelles compare in one point advantageously with Paris. For the houses having fewer 307floors, but three or four, generally have but one family under one roof.... The places for a traveller to see, if he has time, are the Archduke’s Château de Schoemburg (in the village of Lack), and the villa of M. Walkiers the banker. They are not half an hour’s drive from Bruxelles and close to one another; besides the way is through the Allée Verte, those beautiful vistas of elms and limes, where the canal goes to join the Scheldt....

“The Archduke’s château is a modern building, Ionic without, Corinthian within, with two fronts of 260 feet, the depth 150, with a central portico at the entrance and a bow in the centre behind. The effect of the building at a distance is gay and imposing enough; when close to it the effect is maimed by bad figures at the top of the building, and the pediment of the portico being filled by a clock, which seems fit only where the character of the building is appropriate, as at Inigo’s church at Covent Garden, to simplicity and use. The gate of approach, loaded with bad ornaments, cupids and what not, is at once lofty and trifling, elaborate and dull.

“In the internal distribution the best rooms are forty feet square—a dining-room 52 by 40—a chapel 27 by 22—and the state room a circle 54 feet in diameter; the dome is the ceiling of the room, and midway between the bottom and the top there is a small gallery on twelve Corinthian pillars. The floors in the other rooms are inlaid mixture, angular shapes of oak, mahogany and petrified cedar. In the circular room the floor is shewy, formed of various marbles. There are five windows, 308which should have five looking-glasses opposite—there are but two, with three glass doors, but not looking-glass. The looking-glasses are the manufacture of Venice. And these, eight feet by six, are among the largest ever blown there. For that is the Venetian process; not by the mould as in France and England.

“There are few objects of art. The only pictures are four large ones by De Lance of Antwerp. They are mythological subjects; of course, the worst in the world. Le Roi of Namur supplied the five feet full length of the Virgin in the chapel. It is not bad statuary, for it has, which is very rare, thought and emotion.

“The architect was Montoyer. He built also the Vauxhall in the park at Bruxelles. The house was begun in 1782—it was finished in 1788. A small temple and the pagoda, the only buildings in the garden, are also by him.’ The pagoda has eleven floors. And there, as in Kew, it may be considered as a well-placed trifle....

“The grounds the Archbishop keeps in his hands are between two and three hundred acres. There is an artificial water, fifty toises across and a quarter of a league long—the lawn sloping down to it from the house, with the uplands on the other side, and the fine woody hill form the prettiest scene.

“The adjoining villa of M. Walkiers, the banker, is another more pretty building by Montoyer, amidst the same little fertile scenery. The architecture is Ionic. With a loggio throughout the middle floor of one front, like an Italian villa, the ground plan of the house is about 150 feet by 50. There is a small grass plot before and behind with side walks, through very small trees, in half a dozen strait alleys: not one of the trees are worth five shillings. There is no gravel for the feet, no water for the eye, and the inclosure is a flimsy two-feet hedge which a child may either pass through or step over.”

Plate LVI.Room in the Stedelijk Museum.

309The new style of ornamentation of the Régence and Louis Quinze periods, with its broken curves, auricles, rococo and rocaille work, was carried to greater extremes in Germany and Holland than in France. The school of Borromini, Oppenord and Meissonier carried everything before it, in spite of great opposition on the part of those who clung stubbornly to the traditions of Renaissance art. Carved panelling adorned the walls of rooms, and ceilings, picture and mirror frames, chairs, beds, tables, etc., all submitted to the new designs for chisel-work. A room with furniture of the early eighteenth century is illustrated in Plate LVI. This is in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the woodwork and painted ceiling come from an old Dutch château. The chairs, with their carved frames and stretchers, were in vogue in the last years of Louis XIV and under the Regency. The cabinet with its graded top for the accommodation of porcelain vases is characteristic of the period. The frames of the mirror and picture and the mantelpiece are also fine examples of Decorative Art of the days immediately after British soldiers used such bad language in the Low Countries. In passing it may be noticed that Marlborough’s campaigns in the Netherlands had considerable influence on English taste of the day and forming the “Queen Anne” style, by 310familiarizing British officers with the Decorative Arts of the United Provinces. The Peace of Utrecht (1713) left the Netherlands free to pursue the arts of peace, which they did, so far as internal decoration is concerned, in the wake of the foe they had so bitterly combated. We may note here that the richly carved table on which the Peace of Utrecht is said to have been signed is preserved in the Antiquarian Museum of Utrecht.

The course of Dutch and Flemish furniture during the rest of the eighteenth century tamely follows the channels of French design.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Empire style was in vogue in Holland, as it was throughout Europe. When the Town Hall on the Dam in Amsterdam was presented by the city to the King of Holland, Louis Napoleon, in 1808, the Royal apartments were fitted up in the Empire style, and these hangings and furniture may be seen to-day. A great deal of Empire furniture is scattered through the museums of Belgium and Holland, as well as in the castles and mansions of the nobles and merchants who followed the fashions. A trace of the Empire style is found in the following description of the palace of Laeken, the residence of the royal family, near Brussels, by Robert Hill (Sketches in Flanders and Holland, 1816):

“The apartments had very little of royal magnificence about them: there were no pictures. A few pieces of indifferent tapestry, pier glasses economically put up in three pieces each, and tables, chairs, etc., which might only be called handsome, made up all that 311I recollect of their furniture. This palace has undergone strange vicissitudes. It was built for an Austrian archduchess; in one of the rooms a sky blue canopied bed was shown, which had belonged to the late Empress Josephine, had next been occupied by Maria Louisa, and, shortly before my visit, had been slept in by the Queen of the Netherlands.”

Mr. Hill was not greatly impressed with the Dutch house of the middle class. He says:

“I saw few things about their furniture and household arrangements worth noticing. The lower parts of their houses were commonly lined with glazed Dutch tiles, and stoves made of the same kind of clay were as commonly used to warm their apartments....

“There are two singularities about the houses of the Dutch which must not be forgotten. The first is that every country seat from the merchant’s domain to the little peddling tradesman’s smoking-box, though surrounded perhaps by nothing but marshes, damps and duckweed, is almost sure to bear on its front or over its entrance the words Land Lust (Country Delight), or Land Zight (Country Prospect), Belle Vue, or some other title expressive of the beauties of the situation, or the comforts and ornaments which are to be found within. The other is that the windows of these Land Lusts and Zights, as well as those of houses in the midst of towns, are generally furnished with little looking-glasses, which, projecting from their sides, command every passing object. These are by no means to be considered as ornamental, but they are so placed (sometimes two or three on each side) that they indulge the 312curiosity of their owners without putting them to the expense of showing themselves in return.”

He also notes the peculiar custom of breakfasting and dining in bedrooms. “At the country box of one of the most respectable tradesmen in Holland,” he writes, “I dined with his family in the principal room, which had beds concealed behind parts of its wainscoting.” This was in Rotterdam. He says: “At the end of this garden stood a pretty little summer residence, among whose lower apartments was a kitchen with furniture that displayed all the brightness and neatness for which the culinary arrangements of the Dutch have been celebrated, and above which was a large bay windowed room in which we dined. A natural inquiry respecting bed-chambers was here answered by opening parts of the wainscot, behind which were concealed canopies of the master, mistress and their children.”

The homes of Holland changed little during the century, and the cottages, farmhouses and homes of the peasants may be said to have changed not at all. Take, for instance, the fishing village of Maarken, in the Zuyder Zee, of which Esquiros writes:

Plate LVII.In Bruitlaen, by Artz.

“Most frequently the same room serves at once as bedroom, kitchen and storehouse for the fishing utensils. Some houses, however, have a second and separate room, called here the saloon, in which furniture and clothes are kept, but that is almost aristocratic luxury. The rooms which are flush with the ground have no ceiling, and communicate with the garret, over which the tile or thatch roof rises at right angles. The houses are equally deficient in chimneys as a rule, but before 313the principal window there is a large flat stone surrounded by a row of bricks. A piece of iron is fastened at the back of this stone, against which the fire is kindled. An opening in the roof allows exit to the smoke, which, before emerging, spreads through the loft, where the nets are dried. Only thirty houses are remarkable for possessing chimneys. Several times a year the interior is cleaned and whitewashed. A table surrounded by very low chairs, an old escritoire loaded with pretty china, an eight-day clock, milk tubs whose copper rings shine like gold, produce in the houses of the island an alliance of facts rarely found among other races, namely, of cleanliness with poverty. This taste for china, old glass, curtains and flowered counterpanes is a delicate feature in the Batavian character. Art sits down by the side of Misery at the fireside, which it enlivens with a consolatory beam.”

Plate LVII, entitled In Bruitlaen, by Artz, in the Rijks Museum, shows the modern artist’s conception of a peasant room and furniture. First we notice a large kas or armoire, with heavy ball feet and pieces of china arranged on the top. More china adorns the chimney-shelf, and the chimney-piece with its valance is characteristic. The heavy carved beams, the windows with small leaded panes decorated with coats-of-arms, the tiled floor spread with a carpet, give an air of comfort to the room. The chairs are of the four-backed variety, the table is square, the stool has turned legs and stretchers, and there is a Bible on a stand and a Friesland clock on the wall.

The old farmhouse of which the modern traveller 314sees so many examples, with its red-tiled or thatched roof visible beneath its sentinel poplars, usually consists of a large living-room, a kitchen, a cheese-room, a dairy, two small bedrooms in the garret, a big cow-stable at the back, and an outside kitchen called the “baking-house.”

A native writer says:

“The ‘baking-house’ is often used as a living-room in summer, which is more cheerful than the solemn apartment into which the visitor is invariably ushered. A wide chimney lined with tiles stretches nearly across one side of this room; but the open fire on the hearth has long ago disappeared and given place to an ugly stove. Quaint brass fire-irons hang behind it, and on either side is an armchair, differing from its humbler brethren only in the possession of wooden arms. If there is a baby in the family, it is likely to be reposing in a cradle with green baize curtains as near as possible to the fireplace, in defiance of all laws of health. Two or three large cupboards, sometimes handsomely carved, always kept well polished, stand against the whitewashed walls. One of them generally has glass doors in the upper part; and on its shelves the family china—often of great value—is exposed to view. Unfortunately, these heirlooms in old families have been largely bought up by enterprising Jews. Sometimes, however, sentiment has proved stronger than the love of money, and the farmer has not parted with his family possessions. In a corner of the room a chintz curtain, or sometimes a double door, shows where the big press-bed is—an institution of pre-hygienic times which, to the peasant mind, has no inconveniences 315whatever. In the middle of the room a table stands on a carpet; and, as people take off their shoes at the door and go about in their thick woollen stockings, neither it nor the painted floor ever shows signs of mud. Another table stands near one of the windows, of which there are two or three. The linen blinds so closely meet the spotless muslin curtains, which are drawn stiffly across the lower panes on two horizontal sticks, that a stray sunbeam can hardly make its way into the room, even if it has been able to struggle through the thick branches of the clipt lime-trees that adorn the front of the house. On one of the tables a tray stands, with a hospitable array of cups and saucers, teapot, etc., and is protected from the dust by a crochet or muslin cover. The huge family Bible, with its huge brass clasps, has an honourable place, often on a stand by itself. Rough woodcuts or cheap prints, and a group of family photographs, which do not flatter the originals, are hung on the walls. The framed and glazed sampler, worked in wools by the farmer’s wife in her young days, usually makes a dessus de porte. The alphabet is the principal part of this extraordinary work of art; but it bears various other figures, which, on patient investigation, appears to have some resemblance to certain birds and flowers.”

The country home of wealth is usually built of small, hard, reddish-brown bricks resembling those used in the Elizabethan houses in England. The front entrance is often embellished with a handsome pediment and a stone loggia and steps. Flower beds, canals and woods surround the house, which has a dignified and attractive 316air. It is no less so within, for many Dutch houses, both in the country and city, are beautifully finished. The woodwork, whether of oak or mahogany, is often exquisitely carved and highly polished, and consists of broad staircases with ornate banisters, doors, panelled walls, mantelpieces and mirror frames. Many of the doors and windows are decorated with carvings of garlands of fruits, flowers and other devices, according to the period in which the house was built. In some of the old houses the walls are still hung with the old gilt leather of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Suburban houses as well as country seats bear fanciful names; and on the outskirts of The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and other large cities you may read Lust en Rust (Pleasure and Repose), Buiten Zorg (Without Care), Myn Rust (My Repose), Mon Bijou (My Jewel), Rosen Lust (Rose Pleasure), Honigbij (Honey Bee), Mijn Lust en Leven (My Pleasure and Life), Vriendschap en Gezelschap (Friendship and Sociability), and other such names. These retreats are often covered with creepers, and are situated in the centre of a lawn made gay with flower beds, arbours and sometimes strange ornaments of painted clay—gnomes trundling wheelbarrows, curious vases, windmills, etc., etc.

The town houses and such country houses as are built on reclaimed land are constructed on piles. They begin to build in Holland by digging to the depth of two or three feet. This excavation soon fills with water. Piles are then driven into the ground, and the ends are cut off evenly; and on this level surface beams of oak are laid. The back and front of the house are not added 317until long after the roof is laid on, so that the air may pass through and dry the walls thoroughly. The houses are lightly constructed of brick, iron or wood, with outer casings of stone or marble, intended for show and not for solidity. At the back of the house there is usually a little garden, to which it is necessary to bring every year earth and gravel to replace the soil that the water has carried away.

Frequently the Dutch town house consists of two apartments; for land is dear, and so are house rents in the cities. The lower apartment is called benedenhuis, which comprises a cellar and the ground floor; while the second apartment, called bovenwoning, is composed of the first and second floors and a garret. Each apartment has its separate entrance.

The houses are deeper than they are wide, and the ordinary arrangement consists of a drawing-room in the front, a dining-room in the back, and a dark room in the middle. The latter is the family sitting-room, particularly in winter evenings, for its complete isolation from the outside protects the inhabitants from the cold air. Of late years this middle room has become less popular, and every room in recently built dwellings contains one or two windows. The houses are comfortable, and are heated throughout.

The outsides of the houses, with their cheerful white cornices on windows and doors, ornamental roofs and large windows with Flemish shades and adorned with blooming plants and boxes of flowers, give an impression of comfort and prosperity.

These homes are comfortably or luxuriously furnished, 318according to the purses and tastes of the dwellers, with the ordinary modern furniture; but every prosperous family possesses a few inherited pieces of furniture. Nearly every home contains one kas, if not more, and a small collection of porcelain, earthenware and silver. Oriental goods from the Dutch colonies are not rare.

One peculiarity of the Dutch home is the arrangement for storing and washing household linen. From the moment of a little girl’s birth her female relatives begin to collect the household linen she will have as a portion of her dowry; and the large cupboards and presses of every well-to-do home are stored with linen and damask. As the family washing is done but four times a year, great hampers are used as receptacles for the soiled linen. These are lowered by ropes from the cranes at the top of the house, placed in the canal boats, and carried to the meadows, where they are washed in the canals and laid on the grass. There they are sprinkled by means of curiously shaped wooden spoons with long handles that are dipped in the canal. The clothes, again packed in the hampers, are carried to the house, where they are mangled. The mangle and the napkin-press are found in every house, and the press is not unfrequently a decorative piece of furniture.

One of the most interesting provinces in Holland is Friesland—as yet unspoiled by tourists and rich in old buildings, quaint villas and picturesquely costumed inhabitants. Workum and Hindeloopen (celebrated for its gaily-painted houses) both contain some good buildings of the seventeenth century; while at Leeuwarden, the residence of the governors of Friesland (of the Nassau-Dietz 319family, and ancestors of the reigning house of Holland), the Frisian Museum, with its fine collection of antiquities and porcelain, repays more than a brief visit. Here are two rooms from Hindeloopen, correctly furnished; and many houses with similar rooms still exist in that town. The walls of the smaller room are encased with blue and white Dutch tiles, ornamented with Scriptural or other subjects. The floor is laid with red and brown tiles. A cabinet containing articles of porcelain and curious little silver ornaments hangs upon the wall; and, hidden behind the painted woodwork, is a bed, like a bunk in a steamer, to which access is gained by means of a small and gaily painted ladder. The tables, chairs and other furniture are of simple form, and are painted with bright flowers on a cream or white background. The other room is similarly furnished, and has a number of wax figures of men, women and children dressed in the Hindeloopen costume.

The Rijks Museum also contains a Hindeloopen room with characteristic furniture.

We may, perhaps, be permitted to quote an extract from On Dutch Waterways, by G. Christopher Davies, as a vivid picture of the modern Frisian home.

“We crossed a tiny little bridge, over a tiny moat, passed through a tiny and spotlessly clean yard to the back door. The front door of a Dutch house in the country is for ornament only, and not for use, and is rarely opened save to be cleaned and painted afresh. This house was the most minutely clean and unique any of us had ever seen, and was a perfect and rich museum of the wealthier side of Frisian life. In the passage 320by the house door was a well, and the polish on its mahogany cover was only exceeded by the glisten on the copper bucket, with brass bands, and the shining brass chain which took the place of the ordinary rope. The floor of the hall as well as the doors leading from it looked as if they had only been painted yesterday.

“The kitchen, the living-room on the ground floor, the hall, a passage and a staircase were lined with Dutch tiles, those in the passage and dark staircase and corridors being white, or with a pattern or figure of an animal painted on them. At the foot of the stairs were hung several wooden bowls, painted with cupids and flowers in many colours. Climbing up the narrow staircase, we were ushered into the sacred front room, which would rarely be used for any purpose but show. It was the museum of the house, where a collection of antique treasures were preserved in a place which was worthy of them.

“The room was so jealously guarded from daylight by drawn inner and outer blinds that we could see nothing distinctly until one shutter was opened, and as we crept about cautiously over the highly polished oaken floor we had an uneasy feeling that we ought to have taken our shoes off, and, in fact, did debate in whispers whether we should do so or not.

“Three sides of the room were completely lined with tiles. Up to the height of six feet or so the tiles were adorned with various Biblical subjects, the Dutch conception of which was, in many instances, extremely comical. Above this dado the tiles were plain white, except that a blue bordering went round the oaken 321beams which supported the roof. On the fourth side was a range of magnificent oak cabinets, with lattice or fretwork doors, through the interstices of which the contents were visible. These consisted of rare old china and antique silver articles of every kind, spoons, teapots, pins, brooches, and even a silver birdcage.

“Many of the things were so curious that we could assign neither use nor ornament to them, and much of the interest of the collection was lost to us for want of some one to explain the uses of what we saw. Probably the following paragraph, which I have just seen in a weekly newspaper, may give the true explanation of the small size of some of the objects: The rich Dutch burghers of old believed very much in teaching children by means of their playthings, and used to give them elaborate dolls’ houses furnished with utensils in solid silver that worked perfectly, and were exact models of those in daily use in the family. There were silver lamps and coffee pots, dishes, spice boxes and everything in miniature. Thus the little Dutch girls were housewives from their babyhood.

“Along the top of this rare old piece of furniture was suspended a row of porcelain plates. About the room were curiously carved and designed chairs and tables, some of the latter finely inlaid; and on the wall I particularly noticed mirrors with tortoiseshell frames. The waning light left us too little time to examine the contents of the room in detail, but we all thought it the choicest thing of the kind we had ever seen in public or private.”

In a study of Dutch furniture the canal boat should not 322be overlooked. More than two centuries ago an English traveller asked if there were not more people living on the water in Holland than on the land. In that country canals lead from town to town and village to village, and boats perform transport service. Vegetables, fruits, flowers and dairy produce, flour and all kinds of merchandise are transported in boats; furniture is moved from house to house by means of the canal boats, and passengers are also carried.

Many families know no other home than the trekschuyt: cradled on the drowsy waters the inmates grow to manhood and womanhood, and die in these floating homes.

The traveller in Holland never fails to be interested in the canal boats that are constantly arriving and departing in the grachten of the large cities; but he rarely sees their interiors. The following description by Alphonse Esquiros shows how these canal homes are furnished, and gives us an idea of the life spent there:

“Along nearly the whole length, which is about thirty feet, runs a box or wooden house, frequently painted green; the roof, on which the sailors walk to perform sundry operations, being covered with a layer of pounded cockle shells. This house is divided into two compartments or cabins; the larger one, situated near the prow, is common to passengers and luggage. Here, during the winter, the worthy people, shut up as in a box, swim along in a cloak of tobacco smoke, which relieves the tedium of the voyage. In summer the wooden shutters are removed, and the hatch is raised from the orifice by which the travellers descend. The 323second compartment is the cabinet, called in Dutch the roef, which is entered through folding doors. The second cabin is small, but fitted up with some degree of taste. The windows, four or six in number, are glazed and have red or white curtains, according to the season. In the centre is a table with a copper vessel containing fire, and another smaller one to receive cigar ash, both cleaned and polished in a manner only found in Holland. Add to this, to complete the furniture, a mat, a looking-glass, and, in winter for the ladies, a foot-warmer, called the stoef, containing a small earthenware vessel with two or three lumps of lighted peat in it. Along two sides of this cabin run cushioned benches, on which the travellers sit down opposite to each other. Sometimes there are on a shelf a few volumes belonging to the boat and forming a floating library at the service of the studious passengers. The whole national character is revealed in this simple and minute attention to comfort. At the bows, the space not occupied by the cabinet is filled with merchandise, bales, and barrels; while the poop is left to travellers who wish to take the fresh air, and the helmsman, who steers and smokes the while with the regularity of a steamer....

“On the trekschuyten floats old Holland, with its language, manners and conscientious and powerful originality. There are some trekschuyten in which you pass the night; at about six in the evening, in the event of the master being polite (and we never met any who were not so), he invites you to take tea. You then see a little cabinet produced, containing cups, sugar-basin, and teapot of black earthenware, which is not inelegant. 324The kettle is placed on a species of stove covered with Chinese designs, and containing a vessel filled with burning peat. At night the roef is divided into two parts—a saloon and a small sleeping-room, of which the curtains are raised. A common bed, occupying the entire width of the cabin, and on which men and women sleep honestly side by side, invites you to take your share of the universal calm and rest of nature. This bed is composed of a mattress and counterpane, and you lie down on it full dressed. During this period the boat continues its noiseless voyage through the waters, which divide in a silver furrow on either side the prow.”

The Dutchman has always been famous for his clinging to cleanliness, order and symmetry. Cleanliness in the house and order in the garden, with its clipped trees and hedges of formal designs and stiff flower beds, still persist. The Dutch house of the present day is described by the Rev. J. Ballingal In the North Holland Polders as follows: “Their houses are as often furnished in very modern style, though the furniture is sure to be solid and good. They have the utmost contempt for anything sham and flimsy. In their jewellery, of which a great deal is worn, they would never think of buying false diamonds or imitation coral. Their houses are models of neatness and cleanliness, but there is no trace of aesthetic feeling. Symmetry is admired above everything. Trees planted round the house at equal distances, trimmed to an exact height, and whitewashed to a certain height of the trunk, windows and doors to correspond, gates freshly painted, and gravel walks without a foot-print—that is the country ideal. There is a story of a 325Boer who fancied a piano would be a handsome addition to his best room, and having bought one and got it placed, he returned a few weeks after to the piano warehouse. ‘Did the instrument give satisfaction?’ the dealer anxiously inquired. Oh, yes! yes! I’ve no complaint to make, for nobody has even touched it. What annoys us is we don’t like the look of it in the room. It is not symmetrisch, so I’ve come to buy another, exactly the same, to stand in the opposite corner.’ Such a story is credible enough when one sees the exactly similar way in which, through a large district, houses are built, and trees planted round them, as if every detail were compulsory. The love of cleanliness, too, has its extravagances, as, for instance, in the neighbourhood we speak of we once enjoyed the comic spectacle of a man sitting astride on the ridge of his house, with a pail slung round his neck, scrubbing away at the tiles.”

Holland has not escaped the present taste for the collection of antiquities; but in that country where there is so deep a love of home, and where the peasants guard their possessions with the same tenacity and affection as the rich do their heirlooms, the collector is only rewarded after long years of patient search. However, many of the wealthy merchants and travellers, who are spending the well-earned afternoon and evening of their lives in their country seats near Arnhem, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Leyden, Dordrecht, Middelburg, Maestricht and other large cities and small towns, are able to show rare and interesting relics of the past. A house of a rich traveller will reflect naturally enough the wanderings as well as the taste of its owner. The spoils 326of Java, Dutch Guiana, the West Indies and other colonies, not to mention those of Egypt, Spain and Italy, adorn his rooms and render his cabinets highly interesting.

As a rule his study and the boudoirs of his wife and daughters, his drawing-room with its adjoining conservatory, his library and his bedrooms are furnished in the latest French taste. The dining-room is frequently painted in pale green, and here are displayed in the cupboards vitrines, cabinets, and on the hanging shelves his family treasures, consisting of curious and beautifully engraved glass, silver, and choice sets and individual pieces of porcelain. If, however, as is often the case, the owner is the collector, then he takes especial delight in the “antique-room,” which he has fitted up in the style of a cabinet of the seventeenth century. The general impression of this apartment is brown, derived not only from the panelled ceiling, high wainscot and carved chimney-piece, but from the wall hangings of leather with its raised patterns of faded gold and the high-backed carved furniture.

Brightness is contributed by the array of brass, porcelain, delft, rugs, cushions and tiled fireplace, with its fine brass andirons, bellows and other equipments. On the ledge of the wainscot handsome jars and vases and other specimens of porcelain and delft are symmetrically arranged, and on the wall hang plaques and brass sconces. The room receives additional light from old brass chandeliers. A cabinet full of curios, a large kas, a Bible on a stand, a spinning-wheel, foot-warmers, pipes and old kitchen utensils are sure to be found here; and to these articles we may add a carved napkin-press, a mangle, 327an old carved board and rolling-pin for doing up fine linen, and an ancient carved, gilded and painted sled.

Collecting is not confined to the individual; for the study of old furniture and other antiquities that contribute so great an aid to the historian in constructing the social life of the past and so great an aid to the artist, architect and decorator, is widespread in Holland. The great museums of the large cities contain many superb and valuable specimens, and display them with great taste. In some cases whole rooms have been removed from some old palace or stadhouder’s house with their original ceilings, chimney-pieces, hangings and furniture; and, again, entire rooms have been fitted up in the characteristic style of some province whose individual manners and customs are fast disappearing. Many of the small towns have a collection of local antiquities, which are, as a rule, attractively displayed; for the members of the numerous Dutch antiquarian societies take great pride in the history of their country. Sometimes, as in the case of the “Museum van Kunstnyverheid” in Haarlem, the collection embraces the artistic industries of ancient and modern times. This museum contains a particularly fine collection of kitchen utensils and other articles and furniture familiar to us in the pictures of Jan Steen, Maes and other Dutch masters.

The museums of Belgium are equally rich in old furniture, tapestries and other treasures.



Butler and Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London


  1. Did not change the word ‘jouées’ as it was used consistently. The word ‘joues’ might be more appropriate.
  2. "In Bruitlaen" might be an English-pseudo-phonetic transcription of "In Bruikleen" (On Loan). Did not change.
  3. Jehan/Jan/Jean Maluel/Malouel and Hennequin/Hannequin van/of/de Prindale/Prindael are likely two separate individuals. They are considered sometimes as the same person and sometimes as different persons. Did not change.
  4. Did not attempt to correct any English translation errors from the Dutch.
  5. Did not change ‘daïs’ as it is an old spelling of ‘dais’.
  6. Changed ‘Itedelijk’ to ‘Stedelijk’ on p. vii.
  7. Changed ‘Aubri de Bourguinon’ to ‘Aubri de Bourguignon’ on p. 37.
  8. Changed ‘maestra di panni de razza’ to ‘maestra di panni de arazzi’ on p. 59.
  9. Changed ‘Turween’ to ‘Terween’ on p. 82.
  10. Changed ‘Judocus Hondius’ to ‘Jodocus Hondius’ on p. 107.
  11. Added ‘in’ before ‘1589’ on p. 116.
  12. Changed ‘tart pannen’ to ‘taart pannen’ on p. 151.
  13. Did not change the dates (1689–98) provided for Heinrich van Bein on p. 166. Could not determine the actual lifespan.
  14. Changed ‘studied with Diamonds’ to ‘studded with Diamonds’ on p. 185.
  15. Changed ‘They left the Texel’ to ‘They left Texel’ on p. 215.
  16. Changed ‘household gods’ to ‘household goods’ on p. 242.
  17. Silently corrected typographical errors.
  18. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.