Strapwork

I haven’t been carving lately, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it as I work on the patterns’ drawings. Earlier this week, it was “strapwork.”

That’s a term art historians apply to a group of carvings (& other decoration) that mimic iron straps bound around woodwork. Or so it seems to me, anyway. This style of engraving by de Vries is often cited as an example when discussing (the few) New England examples, or the English ones – but it is only related in concept, not in details.

I first carved it about 20 years ago, one of my early attempts is incorporated in the headboard of this bedstead; two large horizontal panels:

bedstead headboard

My most recent example went into this wainscot chair that’s now in the loft waiting to be finished. 

 

The most extensive research into this particular pattern is Anthony Wells-Cole’s 1981 article “Oak Bed at Montacute: A Study in Mannerist Decoration” in Furniture History. That article runs down a lot of examples in and around Exeter, England. Recently, I sat down with some of the illustrations from that article and searched the web for newer photographs of some of the monuments Wells-Cole cited. (if you have access through JSTOR you can read it here https://www.jstor.org/stable/23404733?seq=1 )

(I’ve not seen any of these monuments – I clipped all these photos off the web. Some wikipedia, some travel blogs, etc)

Carew family monument, 1589 Exeter Cathedrel

Fulford monument, Dunsford, Devon – Thomas Fulford died 1610.

 

Sir Thomas Harris, Cornworthy, Devon, died 1610. Monument said to be erected in 1611.

A pulpit from Iddesleigh Devon –

Many, many years ago I did see some excellent examples in Totnes, Devon:

carved panel, Totnes pews

carved pews, Totnes, Devon

The only person I know of in England these days studying this work in detail is Paul Fitzsimmons, owner of Marhamchurch Antiques. He’s a magnet for Exeter/Devon carved furniture in general, and has clustered together a great group of strapwork examples. Sadly, these days you can buy original oak furniture from him cheaper than you can buy reproductions from me! https://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/current-stock/

 

3 thoughts on “Strapwork

  1. Thanks for the link to Paul Fitzsimmon’s site, Peter. What a treasure trove of examples and carving styles. Excellent photos too that can be enlarged for a close look.

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