Gilt Leather at Levens Hall
The Parrot Panel .
In the late eighties we were introduced to Michael Abbott who became our UK agent, a real gentleman and one of these few without whom we wouldn’t be around making gilt leather any longer.
Shortly after we met, Michael introduced us to a famous Pimlico Road antiques dealer and decorator, the man himself a nonchalant, laid-back, aristocratic aura.
The showroom, loaded with a mix of unusual objects and top antiques, a harmonious, calculated, masculine chaos.
All things I like. To me an interior has to have the three A’s, Antiques Art Architecture without these its … complicated to make something interesting, imposing or even joyful. Imposing as I believe one becomes humble and relax in the presence a genial mix of the three A’s.
We were asked to reproduce a design which he had in his archives, having agreed on terms we went happily to work.
Once the mould ready, cast in bronze and impossible to handle. The modest production started.
It was the first time we set eyes on this design, but than again there are so many designs dating from this period. And research in these days was …..well different, not with the click of the mouse !
When supplied, part of the panels were used to line the walls of the showroom window. No pictures available, yet for us something never to forget.
Working on the archive material provided by our client we noted some irregularities in the background ornament, so far so good.
Later we came across this design as it appeared in an article about a restoration of the ancient gilt leather of the Deanery in Zele Belgium a small town nearby our hometown Ghent.
A closer examination of the design in Zele allowed us to conclude that it was not only the same design but that the leathers were printed on the same mould as they have same irregularities. Thus originating from the same workshop. Besides this, one could see from the quality of the gilding and the way they were painted that they originate from the same workshop
All well, till this very same design appeared in several English movies and series , “the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Wives and Daughters and many others all shot at Levens Hall. Stylistically its the same panel from the same workshop, a closer look at the background ornament shows the same marks, they were embossed on the same mould ! http://www.levenshall.co.uk/
Levens Hall gilt leather restored by the Leather Conservation Center Northampton UK
Remarkable here is that this design was issued by one gild leather workshop, as we know that some designs were produced by almost all the gilt leather workshops. The quality of the work makes this workshop a good one, this also is to be noted as some workshops were not very much regarding to the quality of their work.
At the end of the day the question that remains is where was this design produced.
Two locations in the UK against one in Flanders do not tell the story.
One thing is for sure, the workshop produced quality leathers.
The reproductions made for the eccentric antiques dealer ? Made in Ghent, Flanders.