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Boarded stool

Category

Furniture

Date

1562

Materials

Carved and boarded oak

Measurements

56 x 105 x 28 cm

Place of origin

Westmorland (England)

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Collection

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

NT 998000.1

Summary

A boarded stool, one of a rare set of three carved and boarded oak stools, or forms, English, probably Westmorland, dated 1562. Each of five boards, and each with later top with chamfered edge, the inclined supports with 'buttress'-type edges and pierced with a Gothic cusped trefoil, a shaped sledge-type foot below. These supports slotted to take the aprons, both of which are formed with shaped, elaborately cusped ends. Both of the aprons centred by a horizontal elongated oval boss in a moulded surround between further cusps, above a pair of pierced scrolls. All three carved to the boss to one apron only 'W 1562 S', for Walter Strickland (d. 1569). The carved initials and numerals probably once inlaid, but this inlay is now lacking. This example is slightly cruder in its execution, and the pierced scrolls to the apron are more pendulous than to NT 998000.2 and .3. Note, also, that the boss to here is oval, whilst the bottom edge of the bosses to NT 998000.2 and .3 come to a point, in the manner of an ogee arch. The dimensions also differ.

Full description

A boarded stool, one of a rare set of three carved and boarded oak stools, or forms, English, probably Westmorland, dated 1562. Each of five boards, and each with later top with chamfered edge, the inclined supports with 'buttress'-type edges and pierced with a Gothic cusped trefoil, a shaped sledge-type foot below. These supports slotted to take the aprons, both of which are formed with shaped, elaborately cusped ends. Both of the aprons centred by a horizontal elongated oval boss in a moulded surround between further cusps, above a pair of pierced scrolls. All three carved to the boss to one apron only 'W 1562 S', for Walter Strickland (d. 1569). The carved initials and numerals probably once inlaid, but this inlay is now lacking. This example is slightly cruder in its execution, and the pierced scrolls to the apron are more pendulous than to NT 998000.2 and .3. Note, also, that the boss to here is oval, whilst the bottom edge of the bosses to NT 998000.2 and .3 come to a point, in the manner of an ogee arch. The dimensions also differ. These boarded stools are an extraordinary survival, as this type of seat furniture was superseded in most places from about the mid-16th century with the joint stool, joined by pegs. Like many early Renaissance pieces of furniture made in England in the first three quarters of the 16th century, they are a mix of styles; the cusped trefoil to the supports a Gothic feature, often found on boarded stools, whilst the auricular aprons are entirely Renaissance in character. Traditionally, the friezes are said to simulate leather seat covers in the form of animal pelts, possibly alluding to the Homeric tale of the 'Labours of Hercules'. It is also possible, however, given that the aprons centre upon a boss, that they were inspired by the numerous printed cartouche designs emanating from Italy by way of Flanders during this period. Wells-Cole has traced the cartouches to the overmantels in the Dining Room (the 16th century Great Chamber) and in the Boynton Room, dated 1564 & 1575 respectively, to designs of Benedetto Battini, published in Antwerp in 1553. Several cartouches attributed to Jacob Floris feature scenes within a border of projecting axehead-form cusps, very similar to aprons to these stools. These were published after 1562, but it is possible that such designs were current when these stools were made. Cartouches drawn by Frans Floris I also incorporate a pair of pierced pendant scrolls beneath a central boss; a feature which is otherwise relatively rare in ornament prints. These stools are the earliest of the dated pieces of Elizabethan movable furniture which survive at Sizergh. In fact, of the fortunately surviving dated woodwork there, these are the second oldest, and came four years after the carving of the pedimented screen which now spans the Entrance Hall and is dated 1558. The fitting out of the hall - where guests would be greeted - was clearly Walter Strickland's first priority during building works which continued until his death in 1569. This set of three stools is related to another set of four [NT 998001.1 - .4] which are very similar but undated and unitialled, and all seven relate to NT 998006, an example which is differently decorated and perhaps a forerunner of the other seven. Their maker is unknown, but it may well have been the craftsman/workshop responsible for the chairs in the castle dated 1570 & 1571 [NT 997985 & NT 997986], and for the carving surrounding the lockplates of the 1571 chests [NT 998159.1 - .3].

Provenance

When Walter died in 1569 an inventory of his goods listed two sets of 'iiii. short furmes', one in 'the lawe [low] tower', and the other 'in the chamber next Mr. Tempast chamber where thei dyne'. Whilst the former were valued with a table, with only one value being supplied, the latter were valued at 6s, or 1s 6d each. There were also 'viii furmes', valued together at 12s, in the hall. A publication of 1908 by Daniel Scott transcribes another document, taken on 28th June 1569, which lists the contents of some rooms, but groups other pieces by category under titles such as 'Woddewarke'. 17 'buffett forms' are listed, and a remarkable 37 'buffett stoyles newe and old'. Probably commissioned by Walter Strickland (1516 - 1569) and thence by descent, and given by Henry Hornyold Strickland (1890 – 1975) with Sizergh Castle and its estates in 1950.

Credit line

Megan Wheeler

Marks and inscriptions

Apron: W 1562 S

References

Wells-Cole 1997 Anthony Wells-Cole, Art and Decoration in Elizabethan and Jacobean England: the influence of continental prints, 1558-1625, New Haven & London 1997, p. 21 [Raine, 1853] James Raine, Wills and Inventories from the Registry of the Archdeaconry of Richmond (1853), pp. 221 and 222 Goodall, 2002: Ian Goodall. “Privacy, display and over extension: Walter Strickland’s rebuilding of Sizergh.” Antiquaries Journal 82 (2002): pp.197-245. Scott (1908), Daniel Scott, The Stricklands of Sizergh Castle, p. 109

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