March 5, 2008

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Spanish furniture: its own typologies and external assimilations

Dr. Mª Paz Aguiló.
Institute of History. CSIC

Considering exclusively the typologies that are of most interest for the evolution of furniture in Spain: the chest, the desk, the armchair, beds and chests of drawers, the lecturer reviewed the similarities with the international Gothic in the use of iron and leather, with the Italian creation in the Catalan production of painted and gilded paste and the contribution final of Hispano-Muslim carpentry, which was considered until 1550 the "rich work" of furniture production. The use of block inlaid woodwork such as the Granada style and inlaid woodwork such as the Mudejar style, its relationship with Italian certosine and its evolution in the Aragonese Mudejar centers, as well as the appearance of related techniques in the Far East, India and Japan on the basis of Structures and Western aesthetic concepts.

Stucco casket     Mudejar inlay desk front

Stucco chest. Catalonia. Fifteenth century, and front of Mudejar inlaid desk. XV Century

An essential piece of furniture is the writing desk as a Spanish typology, its decorative difference in the crown of Aragon and Castile, and the evolution of inlaid decoration towards Renaissance forms, the appearance of the deornamented writing desk at the beginning of the 17th century, the variations of the Salamanca desks from 1600 to 1650, and other local types, up to the introduction of new materials and aesthetic assumptions from Italy and Flanders, such as the use of ebony and ivory, tortoiseshell and bronze, and the use of these in pairs, constituted the second block of the lecture.

A brief approach to the problems of identity in Portuguese, Sevillian, Catalan and Majorcan beds was also attempted, as well as the evolution of seats from the hip chair, the arm chair, the Spanish-Portuguese chair, to the forms that arrived from Italy, France and England in the 18th century. 

The withdrawal of the writing desk and its replacement by English-style bureaus, chests of drawers and dressing tables were clearly affected in the second half of the 18th century by the European influences that found in the Royal Workshops a field of application for the Italian and French innovations of late Neoclassicism.

Desk Bureau

Escritorio Buró, Valencia, ca. 1740