Gilt Leather in Old Master Paintings – but not only !

Gillis van Tilborgh the Younger, born in Brussels 1625. He is famous for his genre paintings, interior scenes and portraits.

The “Vlaamsche Kamer” (Flemish room) could be compared to a parlour.  In these important houses they were often oak paneled rooms some combined the oak paneling with gild leather tapestries between dado and corniche other rooms were lined with gilt leather tapestries from plinth to corniche, for some of his paintings this setting was chosen.

Jan Siberechts a contemporary and friend of Gillis van Tilborgh has a reputation as a landscapes painter but as accomplished master he is a great portraitist too.

On a more humorous note: here a stunning portrait of …. my dog in front of his gilt leather tapestry. By Thierry Poncelet

As Always





Rose & Tulip Border

Dutch scholar Eloy Koldeweij in his book “Goudleer-Kinkarakawa” states the border originates from Amsterdam around 1660. On page 123 there is a picture of this border form the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

French scholar Henri Clouzot in his book “Cuirs décorés ” 1920                 pictures on page XI of book 2 a Rose & Tulip border form the collection of the Museum “Vleeshuis” Antwerp. He dates the panel simply as 17th century and originating form Flanders.                                                                                                                                           The border pictured by H. Clouzot is attached to a panel, when looked closely at one can see some putti and as central theme a fruit basket perhaps an allegory on the abundance ?

The Border we have was originally a reproduction made for restoration purposes by Van Herck Antwerp, a dynasty of antique dealers and restores. I was told the wooden blocks to reproduce the leather panels on cardboard paper were made at the end of the 19th century yet flipping a bend edge revealed a stamp of Van Herck dated 1925. This doesn’t proof the mould was made in the early 20th century yet I confess I would have expected to see 1892 for ex.

As you can see the border is framed by a cabochon and diamonds edge which we unfortunately have not on our border as the original panel we took the print from had a poor definition of this part of the sculpture event though it looks good on the picture.

Eventually it would be worth while to dig into the history of the Van Herck family in Antwerp …… maybe later……

Here another detail of our Rose & Tulip Border

As Always


Lutson Modern

Lutson Modern by Luttylux

In the new catalogue I’ve added a binding about Lut’s art.

Works can be seen and purchased  on the site

From the 21 of April 2017 on several works will be shown during an exhibition at the

Galerie Koustak in Fources France

Here a selection of works to be shown


 Canvas 85 X 90 cm


Canvas 75 X 75 cm


Canvas 85 X 90 cm


Ink on Paper 25 X 35 cm

An extract from Lut’s biography

Despite her classic education her art is resolutely contemporary.

Drawing and painting is a passion that never left Lut and its with constant renewed energy and vision that she explores unbeaten paths. In her work she mixes techniques and mediums.

She makes bas-reliefs, paints or draws with ample, strong and harmonious movements.

She uses charcoal and includes in her works techniques that escapes the control of her leading hand, thus reflecting the incertitude of our daily life.

Her architectural mind setting reflects in the way she builds her works, often with underlying geometrical patterns and by the use of construction materials. She pays great attention to perspectives and optical effects.

She claims her work is a reflection and expression of her inner self, showing ordered anarchy in a confined environment.

As Always



Pieter De Hooch 17th century Gilt Leather Interiors

Pieter De Hooch

A remarkable painter of Dutch interior scenes of the 17th century.

He is often compared to Vermeer or at least mentioned in the same phrase, De Hooch being 3 years older than Vermeer.

However Vermeer’s paintings are more emotional. Vermeer is a master in  creating an atmosphere, the interior being an accessory to help express the feelings he brushes down so delicately.

De Hooch is more precise, making the interior communicate with the exterior by opening doors and windows, using tiled floors to accentuate the perspective. The interior scene an elegant way to allow painting elaborated surroundings.

Before 1660 De Hooch lived in Delft there he painted middle class interior scenes.
When he moved to Amsterdam his clientele being wealthier the interiors reflect this. High ceilings, rich furniture, paintings on the walls, elaborated tapestries and indeed gilt leather

  Pieter de hoogh Merry Company 1664 1-19-10

Pieter de hooch interior-with-figures 1664 .jpg!Large


Theses paintings were painted around 1664


Gilt Leather At Levens Hall, cuir de cordoue, goudleer, guadamecies, kinkarakawa

MD37027 PG26

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 !



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.


Parrot 75 X 59 cmThe Parrot Panel reproduction by Lutson

 Left, the original panel, right the reproduction by Lutson

Tulips on Hodsoll panelThe tulips in this panel were painted in two different ways here the other version on a pale gilded ground


As Always


Heerenveen “Tuymelaarhuis” Gilt Leather / Goudleer / Cuir de Cordoue

Tuymelaarhuis Heerenveen


Mr. Wiebren Dijkstra

Hanging onto his paint brush on his shaky scaffold.

Without Wiebren this project would not have seen daylight.

Thank you, Wiebren !

This house goes back to the 16th century and was modified during the course of time,

the last remodeling was around 1750.

It always amazes me to see buildings this old in such good condition, typical northern Europe !

The more you wander to the south the quicker buildings seem to wear.

Our place dates form 1850 and was sort of a ruin already.


Here the order is well on its way,

the flowers were painted in the 18th century tradition.

The leathers painted and hanging to dry before the antiquing is applied.

The colours and the gilding were made to the customers specifications.





 Dutch professional magazine Eisma’s published an editorial on the subject.

It shows the trimming and gluing of the leathers.

A rare opportunity to practice your Dutch….


Wiebren assited by Pauline Kaan


The indisputable proof that hanging the leathers is easy and fun !




A link to Wiebren Dijkstra ‘s site.

Thank you for reading me.

Best Wishes


Japanese Gilded Screen, the making of an Utopia.


This perfect world.
A place of peace and harmony.
Nature is glorious, unharmed.
Storms are roaring yet only to be impressively beautiful.
A world apart from evil and sickness
Serenity amongst men
Serenity in nature

This world, so remote form the one we are living in is a widespread ideal found in many cultures and religions throughout the ages.

The Japanese created a mobile, temporary, in the here and now space “Utopia” by surrounding a confined space in a room, in a house or outside the house with gilded screens.
Within this confined area reigns harmony.

Japanese Prof Mrs Ido Misato wrote an article on the subject
Her work is definitely worth reading and far more complete than the two, out of context sections I’ve selected here, I should have posted more of her work but any cutting I make is unjust to her effort and deteriorates the pictures she draws of these “magical screens”

“Poetry meeting spaces and teahouses were often considered “Muen” spaces. By cutting
the connection from outside social order, Muen space embodies a
place where there is no hierarchical order. Since it is totally an equal
space and social orders are ignored in principle, people from any
kinds of classes and gender can stay in a tea house or poetry meeting
place, and warriors must not bring their swords. Although this concept
is not directly relevant to the occidental concept of utopia,
Japanese medieval society had this kind of utopian space, which
negates reality. This is the space of nothingness (mu), cutting the connection
with mundane life.”

“It is quite likely that the people who used this extraordinary gilded
space were men of power who could afford gold. It is necessary to
keep in mind that to decorate space with gold was closely related to
the ostentation of the power. One could perhaps say that although
the gilded folding screen created a space that suspended hierarchical
distinctions, in practice it was a site where men of wealth mobilized
the monetary and symbolic functions of gold to further specific political

Interesting enough, in 2004 the NY Times published an article by M. Holland Cotter on an exhibition ”Golden Fantasies: Japanese Screens From New York Collections,”
The writer M. Holland Cotter defends a less idyllic line, he imparts greater importance to human pride and vanity which are indeed strong drives. His approach is different yet one must consider that the exhibition he visits is not exclusively dedicated to the Gilded Screens as is the text by Prof Misato
This to say that both articles are must read.

Taken from the article by M. H. Cotter
“” As anyone familiar with art fairs or auction houses knows, art is a potent social tool. Almost magically, ownership bestows status, turns nobodies into somebodies and makes those somebodies look classy and smart or, at the very least, rich. Yes, art is about ideals and beauty and all that. But it is also about the power of possession, the sovereignty of taste. Deep down, it appeals to the royalist in us all.
This is one way to talk about ”Golden Fantasies: Japanese Screens From New York Collections,” a small but splendiferous show at the Asia Society and Museum consisting of eight painted and gilded folding screens and a few related objects.
Painted screens have a long history in Japan, now hard to trace. Made of paper or silk attached to wood, they are fragile things, and although they were evidently produced in great numbers, relatively few have survived intact. Portable and flexible, they were a kind of instant architecture, ideal for dividing interior space into extemporaneous nooks and compartments and effective for warding off prying eyes and unwelcome breezes outdoors. (Byobu, the generic name for such screens, means ”wind protection.”)
And with their taut surfaces, they were natural and versatile vehicles for painting. Screens intended for formal or official settings might use images to project moral or political messages, while others designed for domestic quarters might carry scenes of leisurely pursuits and sensual pleasure. Large screens or pairs of screens could accommodate panoramic landscapes and narratives, as is the case in the Asia Society show, organized by Rosina Buckland, a doctoral student at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
The screens on view, all but one on loan from private collections, date from the 16th and 17th centuries, when a feudal Japan was undergoing jolting change. By that time imperial rule, centered in Kyoto, had long been supervised, if not entirely usurped, by shoguns, members of an ambitious military elite who acquired the cultural credibility required of leadership by patronizing and collecting art.
They did so at a time when aesthetic trends changed often and fast. Chinese styles were the measure of painterly refinement during the Muromachi era (1333-1573). But in the brief Momoyama period (1573-1615), lavishly baroque and astringently minimalist strains of art developed side by side.
Opulence, in the form of gilded and painted screens, proved particularly effective for decorating interiors of fortified shogunal castles, with their thick walls, small windows and ponderous eaves. Such screens amplified sunlight in the day and candlelight at night. They also reflected the wealth of their patrons: gold was not cheap. And they advertised the cultural aspirations of parvenu rulers intent on producing, in sometimes over-the-top ways, their own version of imperial spectacle. ”The very privies are decorated with gold and silver,” sniffed one 16th-century observer. ”All these precious things are used as if they were dirt.”
The end of the Momoyama brought further social developments. Urban culture flowered in the new capital city of Edo, present-day Tokyo. In that elbows-rubbing environment, rigid class hierarchies enforced by military rulers loosened up. Wealth, once generated by heredity or conquest, was increasingly concentrated in the hands of a bourgeois merchant class.
And just as rough-and-ready warlords had looked to the imperial court for a model of magnificence, the entrepreneurs of Edo took shogunate culture, with its strategy of acquiring refinement by accumulating art, as a guide. Through paintings — history paintings, nature paintings, genre paintings, commissioned or bought off the rack — middle-class strivers forged an upwardly mobile self-image. “”
The fourfold screen we show here will be exhibited during the “Salon du Patrimoine Culturel” in Paris in November. Measurements are 2800 cm W X 145 cm H // 110″wide X 58″high
We have printed the metallic foil on vegetal leather panels, the metallic ground thus obtained was afterwards varnished with a natural lacquer. The Pine Tree which symbolizes Purity is painted with artist oil colors. Knowing that 18th century gilt leather was often used in Japanese culture we thought it a good idea to revive this cultural interchange complete The Flemish technique and the Flemish artistic hand, here combined with refined Japanese design.

Yours Truly