As a lot of you know I'm neck deep in the middle of a project I've been toiling with for years. I'm writing a book on medieval furniture specifically the pieces shown in the Maciejowski Bible (AKA the Morgan Bible, or The Crusader's Bible). Currently I'm finishing up some of the measured drawings and broad stroke concepts for a lecture I'm giving on November 30th at the Castlerock Museum of Arms and Armor.
Casting about for additional resources to corroborate the design and construction decisions I'm making can be difficult. Often I have to tease the details out of a dozen varied other sources, other times I have to make an educated guess. But often I the other resources I find are like little Lewis Carol's rabbit holes and they threaten to swallow me up in an afternoon of distraction.
Today I found one page that nearly distracted the whole project. It's a surviving Miniature from the Turin-Milan Book of Hours created around 1420 - 1425. A book of hours is a devotional book, illustrating specific scenes or lessons from the bible In the days of yore they were often beautifully illuminated (fancy artful calligraphy) and contained miniatures (illustrated depiction of a certain passage). It's a depiction of the birth of John The Baptist and I think there's enough information in this one page to write an entire project furniture book. Let's take a closer look.
Here's the full page, but let's look a little closer at the larger top portion that depicts the birthing bed chamber.
I count up eight different builds within this one frame. That's enough for a book! Let me show you.
First there's this obviously central aumbry. It's fantastic with the details and the carvings, It looks nearly as tall as the woman standing next to it. You can see the hardware and even tell which way the grain is running. I may have to build this piece eventually anyway.
Next obvious is the hutch chest on the left hand side. I have built one of these before and I plan to build more in the future, possibly even offering them as a class.
That's just two, but its a really great start.
The woman in the green dress is seated on a triangle shaped stool with a cushion. I can tell it's a triangle shaped stool because there's another one all the way to the right.
A good depiction and evidence of the existence of this style of chair back to early 1400's in France. Standing before the chair I believe is a distaff for the drop spindle spinning of flax fibers into linen thread.
In the back doorway is a Gandalf looking figure sitting upon a cushioned chest and reading his signed copy of The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. These low boxes can be found in the furniture record. To Gandalf's left looks to be another triangle stool.
Above the door is a cool knick-nack shelf.
Last, but not least, there's a turned bowl and wooden spoon on the floor in the foreground.
1: The aumbry
2. The hutch chest
3. The three legged stool
4. The distaff
5. Gandalf's chest seat
6: The wall shelf
7: The turned bowl
8: The wooden spoon
That doesn't count the obvious objects like the bed, which is lacking in details other than the textiles that cover it, and what is undoubtedly another chest like Gandalf's under a red cloth to the left of the doorway. Off the top of my head the skills you can cover in this book starts with: mortise and tenon joinery, tongue and groove joinery, simple carvings, spindle turning, face plate turning, and spoon carving
Maybe another time.
I have to remind myself of the mission at hand and keep my head above water or things like this will carry me out with the tide and I'll never finish.
Ratione et Passionis