Friezes from the castle of Vélez Blanco

Medieval furniture forms remained in use until about 1515. Dressers with canted corners and flamboyant decoration are typical of early fifteenth-century forms, but those adorned with scrolls and arabesques testify to the gradual influence on French furniture of Renaissance “ultramontane” (Italian) decoration. Early sixteenth-century French chests show all the features of a transitional style of furniture: front panels decorated with profile medallions framed by slender columns; side sections carved with linenfold panels – a Gothic legacy. An armoire with four doors carved with medallions containing alternating male and female profiles is an outstanding example of furniture from the late Middle Ages. Tapestries were still an integral part of home decoration; the preference was for pastoral scenes such as harvesting, which evoked the daily lives of peasants or lords in more or less realistic settings. Allegory and rhetoric were also popular, as were “scenes galantes,” represented here by a couple beneath a canopy. The monumental carved pine friezes from the castle of Vélez Blanco are a unique example of early sixteenth-century Spanish decorative carving. Inspired by woodcuts by Giovanni Andrea Vavassore, they once adorned the reception halls of a Moorish fortress in Vélez Blanco in the heart of Andalusia – the castle of Don Pedro Fajardo y Chacon.

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