Wood and Lacquer
Materials and technique
34.5 x 73 cm
The Mudéjar style of the Iberian Peninsula grew out of a synthesis of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish artistic idioms beginning in the twelfth century and continuing through the end of the fifteenth century, when the Mudéjars, that is, Muslims who had remained in the region after the Reconquista but who continued to practice their own religion, were forced to convert to Christianity. During the mediaeval period, Mudéjar artisans excelled in the crafts of woodwork, plaster work, pottery, metalwork, and textile production (Ecker 2004, p. 58). This beautifully carved wooden beam contains design combinations reminiscent of other architectural elements attributed to Toledo. Split and curved palmettes, for example, appear in corbels in the collection of the Hispanic Society of America, New York (Ecker 2004, pp. 64-65 and 147-48 [no. 56, inv. no. D51-D60]). Heather Ecker notes that the combination of the curved palmette motif (which “sweeps back from the top volutes like the prow of a ship, in Spanish, canecillos de proa or quilla, between two vine tendrils that project outwards as points”) and the appearance of multi-petalled rosettes distinguish these examples as typical of Toledo rather than Granada as a place of production (ibid., p. 147). Further comparative examples can be found in the David Collection, Copenhagen (von Folsach 2001, p. 271 [fig. 437, inv. no. 46 a-b/1999]). Traces of polychrome decoration on this beam suggests that it was once painted in colour.
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