From Revival to Reform – BIFMO/FHS event

BIFMO-FHS is running a short online course about nineteenth century furniture next Wednesday 21 April 2021 entitled

‘From Revival to Reform’. The event will run from 4pm – 7pm(BST)  and will comprise five presentations which are as follows:

Dr Megan Aldrich  – Setting the Stage for British Furniture in the Nineteenth century

Dr Sydney Ayers – Wright & Mansfield: The Adam Revival in Furniture and Interiors

Christopher Payne  – Examining contemporary sources: The Furniture Gazette 1872-1896.

Helena Pickup  – Useful and Beautiful: The furniture of William Morris

Matthew Winterbottom  – William Burges’s Great Bookcase in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Tickets via Eventbrite: for more details please see the Furniture History Society website

The History of Dutch Painted Furniture: 7 April 2021 at 6 p.m: now on RFS YouTube channel

The Regional Furniture Society was delighted to present a Zoom lecture by Hans Piena, Conservator of the Dutch Open Air Museum, Arnhem on Wednesday, 7th April at 18:00 hrs GMT on ‘The History of Dutch Painted Furniture. The lecture is now available on the RFS YouTube channel.

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Hans is well-known to members of the Regional Furniture Society. He recently joined our Shropshire conference where he delivered a fascinating talk on the history of Dutch rush-seated chairs, but we first met at Arnhem on our study tour of Dutch painted furniture in 2001.
His new 50 minute presentation, recently delivered at The Rijksmuseum, is the result of his 14 years of research since our visit. It covers the history of Dutch painted furniture which was produced by members of guilds known as ‘witwerkers’. ‘Wit’, meaning white, refers to the pieces in their initial unpainted state. Witwerkers developed great skill in decorating these pieces in faux exotic veneers or with painted stories from the Bible, in imitation of a host of fashionable hardwood items such as cabinets, wardrobes, chests of drawers and tables. It is usually assumed that painted furniture was a rural craft, but Hans will explain that witwerkers emerged in the cities – the first witwerkers’ guild founded in Amsterdam in the early seventeenth century. During the course of the seventeenth century, the influx of immigrants and rise of the middle classes led to a boom in the market for inexpensive painted furniture and the development of a marketing and distribution network into the distant reaches of the Netherlands and overseas as far as Russia and beyond, including, of course, those bow corner cabinets to England that are so familiar.  Witwerk evolved to reflect the changes of the finest furniture through the late 18th and early 19th century, sometimes with humorous consequences. 

Research in Progress: New Thinking about Medieval Furniture 13 March 2021 via Zoom

The latest meeting in the series of Research in Progress took place on 13 March 2021 via Zoom. As with the previous two themed meetings, (Sixteenth-century Furniture and The Regional Chair), speakers presented current research from a variety of perspectives. The sessions may be viewed on the RFS YouTube channel.

Programme 

10.00 Introduction (Liz Hancock, RFS Newsletter Editor)

Morning session (Chair: Chris Pickvance) 

10.15. Agnès Bos (University of St Andrews)  ‘A Reappraisal of the ‘Medieval’ Arconati-Visconti Dressoir at the Louvre’) Agnès Bos is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews. She was a curator at the Louvre from 2006 to 2016 specialising in decorative arts from the late middle ages to the 17th century, with a focus on furniture, tapestries and textiles. In 2019 she published the catalogue raisonné of the Medieval and Renaissance furniture of the Louvre. For her articles see Agnès Bos | University of St Andrews – Academia.edu

11.00 Cécile Lagane (Centre Michel de Boüard /CRAHAM, Caen), ‘Evolution and Transformation of Furniture in its Architectural Environment: the Armoires of Bayeux (Normandy) and Aubazine (Limousin)’. Cécile’s doctoral thesis on Medieval furniture and furnishings from 500-1300 will be published shortly. For her articles see www.academia.edu

11.45 Discussion

12.00 Nick Humphrey (Furniture, Textiles and Fashion Dept., Victoria and Albert Museum,
London), ‘A Fifteenth-century Desk-cupboard at the Victoria and Albert Museum’. Nick is the curator responsible for pre-1700 furniture, woodwork and leatherwork and was involved in creating the British Galleries (2001), the Medieval and Renaissance galleries (2009), the Dr Susan Weber (Furniture) Gallery (2012), and the Europe galleries 1600-1815 (2015). His most recent publication revisits the museum’s most famous piece of furniture, the Great Bed of Ware; current research includes cypress wood chests and Latin-American lacquer.

12.45 Jens Kremb (Independent scholar, Bonn), ‘The Chest of Drawers: a Late Medieval Piece of Furniture?’  His doctoral thesis about painted tabletops in the late Middle Ages, was published as Bemalte Tischplatten des Spätmittelalters (Böhlau Verlag, 2015). He has created a research initiative on medieval furniture (www.inimm.de) and his articles are on www.jkremb.academia.edu

1.30 Discussion

1.45 Break

Afternoon session (Chair: Nick Humphrey)

2.15 Chris Pickvance (Chairman, RFS), ‘A Closer Look at a Group of English Clamped Chests from 1250-1350: Timber, Construction and Decoration’. Chris has been researching medieval chests for over ten years using dendrochronology.  His articles have appeared in Regional Furniture, The Antiquaries Journal and archaeological journals; see www.researchgate.net

3.00 Noah Smith (Scouloudi Fellow, Institute for Historical Research), ‘The ‘Courtrai chest’ at New College, Oxford: Iconography and Materiality’. This controversial chest, a focus of Noah’s research on Flemish medieval art, has been viewed both as a fake and a Belgian national treasure. This paper will explore the material and art historical aspects of the chest, addressing its potential provenance and suggesting a new iconographic reading of its frontispiece. Noah is in the final year of his PhD at the University of Kent, and has work forthcoming in several publications. 

3.45 Rachel Sycamore (MRes student in Medieval Archaeology, Worcester University), ‘Dug-out Church Chests in Herefordshire and Worcestershire’. Rachel is in the third and final year of her Master’s degree. Her research focuses on dug-out church chests and has used dendrochronology to date four in the two counties so far. Her paper will discuss the construction methods, ironwork and physical characteristics of examples, comparing and contrasting those which have been dated.

4.30 Discussion

4.45 Close

The event was free and open to non-members after registration. The day was recorded.

Forthcoming FHS lectures

The FHS have kindly sent us a list of their forthcoming talks:

Wednesday 17 March 2021 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. BIFMO half-day on-line course Georgian Furniture Makers

Sunday 21 March 2021 at 7 p.m. BIFMO lecture with Amy Lim: ‘Female Patrons of Furniture in Late Stuart England’

Wednesday 24 March 2021 at 5.30 p.m. FHS seminar on ‘Pattern books, early trade catalogues and many other rarities’: the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History, Brotherton Library, University of Leeds 

Sunday 28 March 2021 at 7 pm. FHS lecture with Adriana Turpin. ‘From Bond Street to The Breakers: Dealers and the Development of the American Market for English Eighteenth-century Furniture c. 1900-1930’

Wednesday 14 April 2021at 5.30 p.m.  FHS seminar on Conservation ‘Into the Workshop: Furniture restoration/conservation’, chaired by Dr Tessa Murdoch & Yannick Chastang 

Sunday 25 April 2021 at 7 p.m,  FHS lecture on ‘Malachite, Lapis-Lazuli, Verre églomisé, and Marquetry: Russian Furniture at Hillwood’, Wilfried Zeisler, Curator of 19th century Art, Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens on Hillwood’s Russian furniture

Sunday 16 May 2021 at 7 p.m. BIFMO lecture with Laura Microulis, tbc

AGM Reminder

You will already have seen a post indicating that the AGM has had to be arranged as a Zoom meeting. It indicated that you should contact Jeremy Rycroft on justj2r2@gmail.com to obtain the code and password. This arrangement stops non-members accessing and interfering with the meeting. We need more members to join the AGM to reach our quorum. Please email Jeremy to get the meeting reference code and log on Saturday 24 October at 2:30 p.m., if you are able to. You will be sent a copy of the Agenda, last year’s AGM minutes and some guidance on using Zoom. If you have questions, please send these in in advance to Jeremy Rycroft too, if possible, so someone is ready to answer them.

Society Events for 2020 – UPDATED for cancellations and postponements

Regional Furniture Society 2020 events were open for booking, but some have had to be cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus risk

Forms are available on this website for members to print off (links to be found within individual events below). These forms will also be included in the Spring newsletter which is scheduled to arrive with members in February. All events have a finite number of places so to be sure of a place you may consider booking early.   The website will be updated when an event is fully subscribed or if an itinerary is substantially altered.

Some events may ask for a specific date on your cheque. We sometimes retain cheques for events and bank them together shortly before the event taking place. Cheques are only valid for six months, so please follow the instructions on dating and provide an individual cheque for each event.  If you do not possess a cheque book,  we may accept transfer of payment into  our bank account by agreement with the events organiser, but this needs to be arranged at least 2 months ahead of the event.

Leeds and West Yorkshire carved oak furniture of the 17th century.

Thursday 23th April 2020 – NOW CANCELLED because of coronavirus risk – to be rescheduled in Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021. No cheques have been banked.

Peter Brears has generously agreed to lead a one-day study tour of furniture of the  key houses and churches which featured in his recent article in our 2019 journal. 

Departing from Leeds station at 10:00 by coach, we will visit Shibden Hall, Halifax, and  lunch at the 17th c. Shibden Mill Inn set within a deep fold of the picturesque Shibden Valley.  We will then visit Oakwell Hall on the outskirts of Leeds, followed by St John’s church in the city centre, which we were unable to access on our Chippendale study day two years ago.  It is a short walk from St John’s to the station.

Trains from Kings Cross take about 2hr 15 mins.  Consider staying an extra day at one of the great range of hotels in Leeds and visiting Temple Newsam or Harewood House.

Cost: £60, including lunch.  Applications to be received by March 9th.

 Annual Conference, Lincoln

NOW POSTPONED from Monday 22nd – Friday 26th June 2020 provisionally to Wednesday 23rd to Sunday 27th June 2021

UPDATE: this event has, alas, had to be postponed because of the coronavirus risk: no cheques had been banked at the date of cancellation.

The text below is the original text relating to the now-postponed conference. It will be updated when the position becomes clearer.

 The date of this year’s conference has changed from the date posted in the RFS autumn Newsletter, and the Friday programme appearing in the Spring Newsletter has been amended since going to print.

 Lincoln is a city of two parts. The cathedral and castle share the heights and the commercial hub with an earlier history on the river below, linked by the aptly-named Steep Street.  It is a city enjoying a renaissance, peered by modern industry and two dynamic universities.  We will be staying in the high town at the Bishop Grosseteste University, specialising in mature student courses, where all rooms have small (4 foot) double beds which can be made up for single or double occupancy. Couples may decide to share a room or book two rooms.  There is ample car parking. Lincoln is served by a branch line from Newark North Gate station on the fast east coast route.   The university is a short taxi-ride from Lincoln station and buses connect it with the city centre.

 Monday 22nd June will find many delegates arriving at Lincoln and choosing to stay Monday night for an 8:30 start on Tuesday morning.  A package of: 2-course refectory supper, bed & breakfast may be booked on the application form.

 We have arranged an optional private visit on Monday afternoon to the  Elizabethan Doddington Hall, just to west of the city.  The house has remained in the same family for 400 years, and contains an interesting and varied collection of furniture and pictures imaginatively presented with the current owner’s contemporary ceramic collection. Whilst the house will not be open to the public on that day, two cafes and a restaurant will be available for us to lunch on arrival. (not included in the cost of the visit). Members arriving by train to Lincoln may take an affordable taxi to Doddington and will be offered lifts to the university at the end of our visit. This Monday event is priced separately on the booking form.

 Tuesday 23rd.  The start of the main conference, will be devoted to the city of Lincoln,  starting at the cathedral: considered by some, the finest gothic church in Europe.  We will visit the Wren Library containing 15th c. reading desks, where William Sergeant will introduce us to their collection of early forest chairs probably by Joseph Newton of Fenton alongside those from his own collection brought together for comparison for the first time.  Then the opportunity of a roof tour, taking in the bell-ringing chamber, the triforium, and the spectacular roof space retaining much of its original timber. 

The west front of the cathedral faces the castle, where we will visit the the old prison with its unique 19th c. chapel, designed to enable the prisoners to see the minister but not their fellow inmates, and the new subterranean space created for the Magna Carta. After lunch we will visit the Usher Gallery (currently under threat of closure) founded by jeweller and watchmaker James Usher (1845-1921) to study his collection of 18th. c. locally made clocks including some rare examples with wooden movements.  Fitter members may walk down Steep Street through the commercial centre and over the only surviving medieval bridge with shops on it, to St Mary’s Guildhall, one of the lost medieval palaces of England, with a  much older surprise recently exposed beneath the floor. Those choosing to remain in the upper city may  explore The Collection – a new museum of the county’s history in art and artefacts, well-placed opposite the Usher Gallery.

 Wednesday 24th:  north by coach to visit Gainsborough Old Hall, containing the largest collection of 17th. c. furniture in the county.  Then to Epworth church and rectory (birthplace of John Wesley) with its eclectic collection of chairs and after lunch, a private visit to Scawby Hall, home of the Nelthorpe family for over 400 years, guided by Kristin Nelthorpe.

 Thursday 25th:  we travel by coach to the attractive market town of Louth to view Sudbury’s hutch, given to the church in 1502. Then to a rare ‘mud and stud’ cottage near Horncastle, where owner Andrew, will demonstrate traditional thatching, while his wife, Ruth will guide us around their home containing furniture collected by Andrew’s mother from local farm sales. Then, pausing to picnic at the Tudor brick Tattershall Castle, we will travel south for a private visit to a 17th c. ‘artisan baroque’  manor house to study the owner’s collection of oak furniture.

 The huge county of Lincolnshire has a glut of fascinating churches, some with carved screens and many retaining their  distinctive medieval chests with spectacular Gothic tracery. On Wednesday and Thursday we will endeavour to fit in brief stops to explore a number of these churches, and a real surprise: a Gothic church furnished in the finest mahogany.

 On Friday morning 26th,  after breakfast we will depart the university by our own transport to Navenby  ( 20mins. south of Lincoln), to visit the unmodernised cottage occupied by  Mrs. Smith until her death at 102 years, which has just reopened following conservation of the roof.

 Friday afternoon 26th, an optional  visit, for a limited number, to  a guided tour of a fascinating collection of family portraits in Fulbeck spanning 400 years ,a few miles south of Navenby.   Friday Lunch is not included but there are pubs serving food in Navenby and Fulbeck.

 Those members departing by train, who wish to attend one or both of the Friday events will be offered lifts and delivered late morning or late afternoon to Newark station, convenient for onward travel. Please indicate on the booking form if you would like a lift.

 The Furniture Surgery and AGM will take place on Wednesday or Thursday evenings after dinner.

 Costs:   Main conference, including bed, breakfast, all meals except some coffee and tea breaks, admissions and coach travel on two days from Tuesday morning 23rd June to Friday 26th June, departing after lunch : residential, single occupancy £480, double occupancy  £420 per person,  non-residential £310.

 Additional costs:   Monday 22nd June. Refectory two course supper, bed & breakfast; single occupancy: £83, double occupancy: £65 per person  

Monday 22nd June: guided visit to Doddington Hall:  £13

Friday 26th June: p.m. visit to a private portrait collection: £10

Lancaster

Friday 2nd October 2020: Update: not yet postponed or cancelled; update will be posted as soon as a decision is made.

 Celebrating the reprieve of Lancaster’s fine selection of museums from threatened closure, and the town’s celebrated connection with  the Gillow family we will be visiting The Judges’ Lodgings, The City Museum, Lancaster Castle, including the Grand Jury room not usually shown, and Lancaster Priory – all within a compact radius, and visit the Maritime Museum down on the river. There will be the opportunity to lunch as a group in one of several new restaurant/cafes springing up in the town – to be selected shortly before the event.  Those planning a longer stay, may like to plan to stay at the Art Deco Midland Hotel at nearby Morecambe.

 Cost of the day £25, not including lunch.  Please note the instruction on the booking form for dating your cheque.

 

Wessex Fine Art Study Courses: From Tower House to Country House: The Art and Architecture of North-East Scotland May 31-June 6, 2020

RFS members will be interested to hear about this course run by Wessex Fine Art Study Courses and led by Dr David JonesThe tour will be based in Aberdeenshire, a magnificent and unspoilt part of North-East Scotland.

The area is renowned for its great concentration of romantic turreted tower houses, with their rich Renaissance plasterwork and painted ceilings. We shall be seeing Crathes, Craigevar, Fyvie and Monymusk, all with interesting furniture. The tower theme continues into the early 18th– century with the dramatic Baroque splendour of William Adam’s Duff House, and in the 19th century is revived in the castellated Gothic of Gillespie Graham’s Drumtochty Castle and Archibald Simpson’s superbly sited Castle Forbes. By contrast, William Adam’s Haddo House (1732) is a classical Palladian country house, with Adam Revival interiors furnished by Wright and Mansfeld. At Kemnay House the original 18th-century furniture survives together with the related furniture bills, whilst Fyvie holds a magnificent collection of Old Master paintings and works of art.

In Scotland few mediaeval churches survived the Reformation, but one of the most fascinating is the ancient collegiate church at Cullen in Morayshire, with interesting furnishings. Important historic gardens to be visited include the rare Renaissance garden of Edzell, the restored Victorian gardens of Haddo and the outstanding early 20th-century gardens of Crathes.

The tour will be based at the Macdonald Pittodrie House Hotel****, near Inverurie, one of Scotland’s most historic hotels, and situated about 20 miles from Aberdeen, with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.

The 7-day tour will cost £2195 per person in a twin-bedded or double room, £350 single supplement. This will include accommodation B/B/Dfor 6 nights, most lunches, all coach transport, entrance fees and gratuities, and detailed course notes.

For the full programme and booking form see www.wfasc.co.uk

 

 

The Cabinetmaker’s Account by Jay Robert Stiefel

The Cabinetmaker's Account: John Head's Record of Craft & Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753, by Jay Robert Stiefel

The Cabinetmaker’s Account: John Head’s Record of Craft & Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753, by Jay Robert Stiefel

Suffolk-born joiner John Head immigrated to Philadelphia in 1717 and became one of its most successful artisans and merchants. However, Head’s prominence had been lost to history until Jay Stiefel’s discovery of his account book at the American Philosophical Society Library. Head’s account book is the earliest and most complete to have survived from any cabinetmaker working in British North America or in Great Britain and offers a 35-year ‘moving picture’ of an 18th century cabinetmaker’s daily life.

Historian, lawyer, and collector Jay Robert Stiefel is an authority on the crafts and commerce of Colonial Philadelphia and the institutions founded by Franklin for the welfare of its tradesmen. He studied history at the University of Pennsylvania and Christ Church, Oxford. Stiefel’s writings and lectures on social history have restored to the historical record many early craftsmen, artists, and merchants whose prominence had been obscured by the passage of time.

Jay introduced his new book at three venues (these lectures have now all taken place):

Tuesday April 30th at 5:00 p.m. Christ Church, Oxford. Free, but booking required via the Christ Church website.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019, 6.00pm – 8.00pm Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Cost: £28 – see the Furniture History Society website.

Thursday, May 9th. 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Lyon & Turnbull, Broughton St. Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 557 8844 for details.

£4 Million Restoration: Historic House Rescue

Tomorrow, Wednesday 16th January at 9pm, More 4 is broadcasting  the first of two programmes called the £4 Million Restoration, which may be of interest to members. It documents the restoration of a Landmark Trust farmhouse in the Black Mountains, dating from c 1400. A new dating technique has been used which is claimed to work on timber previously undateable by conventional methods.

Further information is available in this article in The Guardian: newspaper: Welsh farmstead is rare medieval hall house, experts confirm and the programme details can be found here: Historic House Rescue.