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English Mediaeval and Gothic



English examples of this period are very scarce, and the buffet illustrated here is a favourable specimen of our national work late in the fifteenth century. While the crocketted enrichment in the brackets shews the Gothic taste, there are mouldings and some flutings in the upper part which mark the tendency to adopt classic ornament, which came in at the end of the fifteenth century. It was probably made for one of our old abbeys, but Mr. Seymour Lucas, R.A., to whom it belongs, and from whose drawing the illustration is made, says it was for a long time at Freenes Court, Sutton, the ancient seat of Sir Henry Linger.

The buffet is an excellent example of the best fifteenth century French Gothic oak work, and the woodcut shews the arrangement of gold and silver plate on the white linen cloth with embroidered ends, in use at this time.

We have now arrived at a period in the history of furniture which is confused, and difficult to arrange and classify. From the end of the fourteenth century to the Renaissance is a time of transition, and specimens may be easily mistaken as being of an earlier or later date than they really are. M. Jacquemart notices this "gap," though he fixes its duration from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, and he quotes as an instance of the indecision which characterised this interval, that workers in furniture were described in different terms; the words coffer maker, carpenter, and huchier (trunk-maker) frequently occurring to describe the same class of artisan.

It is only later that the word "menuisier," or joiner, appears, and we must enter upon the period of the Renaissance before we find the term "cabinet maker," and later still, after the end of the seventeenth century, we have such masters of their craft as Riesener described as " ebenistes," the word being derived from ebony, which, with other eastern woods, came into use after the Dutch settlement in Ceylon. Jacquemart also notices the fact that as early as 1360 we have record of a specialist, "Jehan Petrot," as a "chessboard maker."





















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