three hands carving again

lunette, attr William Savell 1652-1700
lunette, attr William Savell 1652-1700
carved lunette, attr John Savell
carved lunette, attr John Savell 1642-1687
lunette, William Savell Sr 1590s-1669
lunette, William Savell Sr 1590s-1669

After yesterday’s post looking at the three hands involved in the principal objects from the Savell shop, it seems worthwhile to look at the carvings from the upper rails of their  chests.  This batch goes in reverse order; the uppermost image is the work attributed to William Savell, the youngest son of William Savell, Sr. Then the middle one is John Savell, the eldest son, who trained the younger William. The lower of the three is one we assign to the immigrant, William Savell, Sr. This carving is somewhat obsucured by numerous paint layers, so some of the detail is barely discernable.

Two answers concerning the comments from the panels – somewhere in the article we mentioned that John Savell was made freeman at such-and-such a date…being admitted as a “freeman” of the town entitles one to various rights, privileges and benefits that a non-freeman is restricted from. Probably responsibilities too.

Concerning the differences in the handling in the carvings; there can indeed be many explanations for it. We were able to see several examples of the work we attribute to both sons, but for the work assigned to William Savell Sr we had only two pieces at the time of publication, and have added only one more since. John’s work, and young William’s were both consistent within themselves. Ditto the old man, although with a smaller sample it’s hard to draw any conclusion. Might be that even had young William trained with his father, (instead of with his brother) he still might have done his carvings with a less than supple curve to his work. That said, he still carves better than me…I blow out the oak between V-tool lines when they are spaced very closely together.

2 thoughts on “three hands carving again

  1. Thank you Peter for posting the photo sequence. I have looked through your 1996 article many times and never really saw the differences between the various pieces. After spending some time really looking, I see what you mean. The carving over time seems simplified and more abstract than that attributed to William Sr. The carving quality of William Sr. reminds me of the early headstones in Charlestown Ma. I look at the Savell work with new eyes!

  2. Peter:Thank you for publishing two examples of the the “three hands ” of the Savell family joiner-carvers. Would you post comparative examples of their work on the spandrels outside the arches of the tree of life. Overtime, I have come to agree with you that the often frenzied and questionable search for particular craftsmen attributions is pushed too far. It is clear that the 17-th Century joiner did not believe in the myth of the great craftsman. They did not even sign their work. However, your Savell family attribution gives us a fascinating opportuity to compare three carvers working with identical subject matter.

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