A Important and Rare Framed Polychrome and Gilt Embossed Leather Panel, Circa 1680-1730


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A rare painted and gilded embossed leather wall panel (Cuir de Cordoba). Finely depicting a gilded angel blowing a Roman style circular horn. The angel surrounded by a curtained canopy of scrolling vines and acanthus. The superbly decorative panel surviving from the late 17th towards the early 18th. Most probably Spanish/Mediterranean. The only other known in existence is a identical panel that is displayed in the Hof van Busleyde museum Belgium.

Professionally mounted in a pitted gilt frame with anti-reflective Invisible Gosglass.

Framed 86cm x 70cm.

Areas of wear and historic stitching.



Leather panels were used to cover walls as an alternative to wooden panelling or textile hangings. Luxurious effects could be achieved with rich colours and highly patterned surfaces. Often the decoration of these hangings echoed the design of other furnishings in a room, and tied together an interior decorative scheme.

Cuir de Cordoba is usually made of fine leather; often calf skins are used. The technique consists of shaping panels of wet leather over wooden moulds, then painting them, then oil-gilding and lacquering them. Sometimes smooth panels of painted Cuir de Cordoue were used.

Patterns for these panels followed fashions in Silk damask, at some lag in time, since the high-relief wooden moulds were laborious to make. After the second half of the 18th century, this luxurious artisan product was no longer made, its place taken in part by chintz hangings and printed wallpapers. In the eighteenth century Chinoiserie patterns were popular with Cuir de Cordoue.

Cuir de Cordoue originated from North Africa and was introduced to Spain as early as the ninth century. In Spain such embossed leather hangings were known as guadamecí, from the Libyan town of  Ghadames, while cordobanes ("cordovan") signified soft goat leather. In 1316, a Cuir de Cordoue guild existed in Barcelona . Spanish gold leather was popular until the early seventeenth century.

In the fifteenth or sixteenth century, the technique reached the low countries , first in Flanders and Brabant, where it was further developed. Though there were craftsmen in several cities (such as Antwerp, Brussels, and Ghent), the major handicraft center for gold leather was Mechelan, where it was mentioned as early as 1504. In the  Dutch Republic gold leather-making flourished in the seventeenth century in Amsterdam,The Hague and Middelburg. In Amsterdam, at least eleven gold leather-makers were active. One of them, Hans le Maire, because of the smell, the need for water, wind and light, working at the edge of the city or in Vreeland  used up to 16,000 hides of calves and some 170,000 leaves of silver annually.

Dutch Cuir de Cordoue was exported to Germany, Denmark, Sweden, China and Japan. The last Amsterdam gold leather merchant Willem van den Heuvel closed around 1680, but the trade and production continued in Flanders and Northern France.