Pair of carved oak doors form a late medieval English standing cupboard

East Anglia

W Each 16 × H 12 × D 1

Stock # marh0409


More information

Pair of carved oak doors form a late medieval English standing cupboard. The proper-left door is carved with a half-length portrait of a man wearing a jerkin and a ruff set within a foliated roundel framed by leaf and bud spandrels. The proper-right door depicts a winged angel holding a shield which bears a merchant’s mark. This precursor to the modern trademark was an ancient means of identifying and authenticating goods. The basic symbol was based upon the early Christian Chi Rho (Christus Rex) or ‘Sign of Four’; each user altered the design in a subtle yet recognizable way. These personal emblems were often integrated into individual and familial heraldic iconography and employed in paint, stained glass, metalware, masonry, and, as seen here, woodwork. It is quite likely that the carving of a the well attired gentleman carved on the proper-left door is the merchant whose mark appears upon the angel’s shield. The distinctive form of the angel’s hair (shaped into thick rolls or cords) strongly relates to the hair seen on the late medieval angel corbels that populate the vaulted ceilings of so many East Anglian, particularly Suffolk, parish churches. Original iron pulls; lockplates replaced For a Suffolk ‘church angel’ with similarly formed hair see Charles Tracy, English Medieval Furniture and Woodwork (Victoria & Albert Museum), pp. 42, 44-45, plates 13 a-c, 14, fig. 7.