Roodloft from ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, 1610-13.
The yellow-glazed roof tiles are in the form of fish-dragons and date from about 1500-1650, during the rule of the Ming dynasty in China. They would have been placed at the end of the main ridge of a sloping roof.
The fish-dragons, with their pronounced jaws, illustrate a popular legend about the dragon living in the East Sea. It was believed that rain fell whenever the monster opened its jaws to spout water. The presence of fish-dragons on the roof was therefore meant to protect against lightning and fire.
Most traditional Chinese buildings have ornaments on the roof ridges or corner ribs. These roof tiles were probably made for a minor palace or temple hall in Tanjin, in Hebei Province in northern China. In this part of China the roof ridge is usually straight but the ribs at the ends of the gables tilt slightly upwards. The fish-dragons were almost certainly made in Hebei, where tiles have been produced since the 6th century and are still made today.
Roodloft from ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, 1610-13.
Straddling the gallery is an extremely rare example of a Baroque roodloft located outside a church. A roodloft is a gallery on which the rood (literally, cross) was displayed to the congregation. Often the cross was flanked by figures of the Virgin Mary and St John. The roodloft acted as a screen between the nave and the chancel, separating the congregation from the altar and priests.
This roodloft was erected between 1610 and 1613 in the cathedral of St John at 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. It was taken down during the restoration of the building in 1866, because it obstructed the view of the high altar, and sold to an art dealer, who in turn sold it to the V&A.
The sculptor, Conrad van Norenberch from Namur, closely modelled the design on the roodloft in Antwerp Cathedral. Its vaulted arcade has an opening in the middle and niches at the sides for statues of saints. Above are four figures bearing coats-of-arms alternating with three statues of the 'cardinal virtues' - Faith, Charity and Hope. The relief panels over the arches show biblical scenes. Between the arches, and reading left to right, are figures of St Peter, the Virgin and Child, St John the Evangelist and St Paul.
Master Mateo, Pórtico de la Gloria from the cathedral at Santiago della Compostela, the original 1188, the plaster cast 19th century.
This is the cast of the Pórtico de la Gloria, which is one of the main doors of the cathedral of Santiago de la Compostela in northern Spain. The cathedral, dedicated to the apostle St James the Greater, is an important pilgrimage centre and second only to Rome in attracting visitors. It was modelled on French pilgrimage churches and erected in 1075-1211. The door is an important late Romanesque design by Master Mateo dating from 1188.
The Pórtico de la Gloria is the west door and portrays Christ in Majesty with apostles, saints and angels. The structure of the door consists of three arches, based on Roman triumphal arches and symbolising the triumph of heaven. The vertical bar dividing the central arch has an image of St James at the top and the Tree of Jesse, a visualisation of Christ's ancestry, at the bottom.
At the back of this column is the kneeling figure of Master Mateo (facing towards the altar). He is popularly known as the Santo dos Croques (Saint of the Bumps) since traditionally visitors have hit their head against the figure in order to receive some of his wisdom.
Columns, southern Italy (Sicily or Calabria), 1150-1200.
These probably formed part of a pulpit or choir screen in a church in southern Italy. They are extremely rare survivors of Italian early medieval church furnishings carved from wood.
All the columns have circular shafts and squared capitals and are carved out of walnut wood. They seem to have been shortened at the base. Two of the columns are sitting on crouching lions.
All four faces of the capitals bear a mixture of religious imagery and decorative ornament. One of the capitals (in the pair nearest to the windows) refers to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. He is shown carrying a scroll inscribed 'IEREMIA', along with two peacocks symbolising eternal life and two trees.
The columns were all originally coloured and show traces of red, green and yellow paint and white priming.
The Sérilly Cabinet, Paris, about 1778.
The Sérilly Cabinet is a masterpiece from the reign of Louis XVI. It is said to have been created for the Marquise de Sérilly, a favourite maid-of-honour to Queen Marie-Antoinette and wife of an army paymaster-general who was executed during the French Revolution. The room is square in plan with two projecting bays. It was designed as a garden pavilion and probably used by the marquise for entertaining her closest friends, perhaps for serving tea since the fireback shows a 'Chinaman' carrying a tea tray.
The decoration was probably carried out by the brothers Jules-Hugues and Jean-Simeon Rousseau de La Rottière, who were also responsible for Marie Antoinette's boudoir turc at Fontainebleau. Its 'grotesque' designs reflect the revived enthusiasm for classical decoration that resulted from the recent excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii. All the surfaces in the room are decorated with ornament representing the Elements and the Seasons, partly in relief. This is painted in various colours and embellished with gilding.
Colonnade from a royal pavilion,
This colonnade is from an early 17th-century royal pavilion in the palace at Ajmer, India. The Mughal emperor Akbar built the original fort and palace at Ajmer in 1570. However, the pavilion from which this colonnade originates is thought to date from the time of his son Jahangir, who reigned from 1605 to 1627.
At the top of the columns are S-shaped brackets with pendant lotus buds. These come from the wooden brackets that were traditionally used in Indian architecture. Above the brackets are expanding tiered capitals that derive from Near Eastern prototypes.
The brackets gave a decorative effect to the courtyards, while the overhanging eaves served as a protection from the fierce sun and monsoon rain.
The front of Sir Paul Pindar’s House, London, about 1600. Museum no. 846-1890
This is the front of Sir Paul Pindar's house in Bishopsgate. It is one of the finest specimens of timber-framed domestic architecture in London and was constructed about 1600 by a wealthy London merchant. Paul Pindar went to Venice in 1584, at the age of 18, and over the next 14 years he amassed a vast fortune that helped him build this new house. Later he became ambassador to Turkey and was knighted by James I.
The two-storey façade was originally four stories. It is made of jointed and carved oak with richly carved panels at the bottom of each bay on the first and second floors. Above this are windows made up of many small pieces of glass. Glass was an expensive material at the time and its use signified the wealth and status of the house owner.
By 1787 the house had become a public house and in 1890 it was demolished to make way for the enlargement of Liverpool Street Station. The Great Eastern Railway Company then gave part of the façade to the V&A.