Though frequently referred to as Spanish or Dutch leathers these embossed leathers were made all across Europe. The production of embossed leathers was very labor intensive. The first step is to cover the entire surface of the tanned leather with silver leaf, which is then brushed with a layer of yellow varnish to give it a gold appearance. It is then embossed by turning upside down and pressing into a mold. Lastly, the design is painted on with oils. Embossed leathers were only produced using silver leaf as the guilds were very strict about this and had severe penalties for using other types of metal. The molds used to emboss the leathers were developed in The Netherlands in early 17th C. Prior to that time all leathers were just flat w/ painted designs. This leather is stamped with a large central medallion which contains birds, stylized flowers and grape clusters around a central trellis-work structure. While intricately embossed there is little remaining pigment on the surface.
It is credited
Museum purchase through gift of Thomas Snell.
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Its dimensions are
H x W: 73 x 58 cm (28 3/4 x 22 13/16 in.)
Cite this object as
Leather; leather, stamped, embossed, silvered, varnished; H x W: 73 x 58 cm (28 3/4 x 22 13/16 in.); Museum purchase through gift of Thomas Snell; 1903-21-3
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.