Gilded leather in the Rubenshouse Antwerp

The Rubens House is the place where you get closest to the world of the greatest baroque artist north of the Alps. The museum ‘uses’ the former function of the monument in which it is housed and the unique atmosphere it is steeped in. It makes use of the ‘esprit’, the spirit which very much pervades the house, to achieve one of its principal aims: to inform, inspire and excite people about their past. All of which combines to makes a visit to the Rubens House an emotional experience, enhancing accessibility to non-traditional museum visitors in the process.

Rubens is master of the Flemish Baroque and was not only a leading painter, but also a book illustrator, designer and diplomat with considerable interest in antique literature, architecture and history. From his home base in Antwerp, he set his seal on a flourishing artistic, political and economic climate.

Important Flemish houses of this period  had several rooms lined with gilded leather,  Rubens house was no exception to this rule.

There were at least two reasons for this choice first gilded leather had managed to become a status feature the wealthy and the powerful. If you were or pretended to be someone you needed gilded leather in the at least one reception room.  Secondly a room lined in gilded leather creates an atmosphere that can’t be matched with another wall covering.

 In the midst of the 17th century there was not such a vast choice of wall coverings anyway, there were the bare painted walls, there were tapestries, wood paneling and gilded leather  … and there “must” have been more choice ?

Often descriptions of the Rubenshouse do mention besides de fabulous collection and the  generous  baroque architecture… the rich interiors with the gilded leather hangings.

Despite the verbal mentioning the “rich interiors” I couldn’t find actually one single picture of the so praised interiors.

One picture was sent in by the restoration workshop “Cordovano”  they have worked on the subject in 2007

Funny enough this panel is made of cardboard and was produced at the beginning of the 20th century by a famous Antwerp antiques and restoration workshop called Van Herk (still in the business).

I thought the wall covering in the concerned room was partly authentic 17th century leather and that at the beginning of the 20th century cardboard reproductions had been inserted where gaps and lacunes ruined the aspect of the room , this needs to be confirmed by some experts.

The design is a 100 % 17th century design and we have it in our collection under the name Abondance

here a little stool made by our friends and distributors

Annika & Leif form Lages AB

We have just finished an order for two custom polychrome panels.

Anyway, if anyone of you have some pictures of the “rich interiors” thank you so much



3 thoughts on “Gilded leather in the Rubenshouse Antwerp

  1. Frederic, this is wonderful! I do hope you will find pictures of the “rich interiors”!! I will search for it and if I find something I will email it!

    1. Hi Greet,
      Prehaps your helping hand (thank you so much) and the bloggosphere wil help finding pictures of the “Rich Interiors”
      meanwhile I have send a mail to the Rubenshuis as well, who knows they are willing to share some of their archive pictures ?
      Have a great day

  2. How wonderful to see Abondance (my favourite pattern) in this fantastic colours. I am looking forward to see more pictures in the future and I hope The Rubens House will share some with you.
    We wish you a nice sunday.
    Annika and Leif

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