Cordoba leather panels - Mechelen - 18th century
Four panels of leather from Mechelen.
Gilded and stamped leather.
H. 165 - l. 100 for one.
In the royal residences, “Cordoba leathers" become important decorative elements during the 16th century and throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Few examples remain today in French public collections. Leather panels have almost completely disappeared from the places they adorned, even though they were not only ornaments intended for vestibules and passageways, but true decorative programs imagined by their renowned craftsmen. The simultaneous disappearance of the use of leather panels throughout Europe at the end of the 18th century and their difficult conservation have made them rare.
Despite being called "Cordoba leather", they were rarely produced in Spain, except for the first models from the 16th century. Manufacturers later took over the technique in France, Germany, England and the Netherlands. Each production center has its own characteristics and the use of different techniques developed over the centuries.
Our leather panels are typical of the Dutch production from the years 1720-1730, which is characterized by an important influence of the French Regency style. They were intended for wealthy individuals in the era of small salons, boudoirs, writing cabinets and music cabinets. They present abundant plant motifs. The acanthus leaf is everywhere, combined with other flowers patterns and fruits with the contrast between the background and the foreground with stamped points. The decorative motifs are repeated endlessly on tiles juxtaposed and glued to the wall. The stamped area is completely golden while it is the background that shows color.
The Netherlands were famous for their golden leathers because it was circa 1650, in Mechelen, that a new method of tanning that will revolutionize the work of leather is developed by the three brothers Vermeulen. By tanning the hides in rotating barrels they invented a faster process and a better quality material for golden leathers. They only used calf skins, unlike other centers of gold leather production.