Illustrated History of Furniture eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 221 pages of information about Illustrated History of Furniture.
therefore, improved and became more varied; the old custom of reclining at meals ceased, and guests sat on benches; and though we have, with certain exceptions, such as the chair of St. Peter at Rome, and that of Maximian in the Cathedral at Ravenna, no specimens of furniture of this time, we have in the old Byzantine ivory bas-reliefs such representations of circular throne chairs and of ecclesiastical furniture as suffice to show the class of woodwork then in vogue.

The chair of St. Peter is one of the most interesting relics of the Middle Ages.  The woodcut will shew the design, which is, like other work of the period, Byzantine, and the following description is taken from Mr. Hungerford Pollen’s introduction to the South Kensington catalogue:—­“The chair is constructed of wood, overlaid with carved ivory work and gold.  The back is bound together with iron.  It is a square with solid front and arms.  The width in front is 39 inches; the height in front 30 inches, shewing that a scabellum or footstool must have belonged to it....  In the front are 18 groups or compositions from the Gospels, carved in ivory with exquisite fineness, and worked with inlay of the purest gold.  On the outer sides are several little figures carved in ivory.  It formed, according to tradition, part of the furniture of the house of the Senator Pudens, an early convert to the Christian faith.  It is he who gave to the Church his house in Rome, of which much that remains is covered by the Church of St. Pudenziana.  Pudens gave this chair to St. Peter, and it became the throne of the See.  It was kept in the old Basilica of St. Peter’s.”  Since then it has been transferred from place to place, until now it remains in the present Church of St. Peter’s, but is completely hidden from view by the seat or covering made in 1667, by Bernini, out of bronze taken from the Pantheon.

Much has been written about this famous chair.  Cardinal Wiseman and the Cavaliere de Rossi have defended its reputation and its history, and Mr. Nesbitt, some years ago, read a paper on the subject before the Society of Antiquaries.

[Illustration:  Chair of St. Peter, Rome.]

Formerly there was in Venice another chair of St. Peter, of which there is a sketch from a photograph in Mrs. Oliphant’s “Makers of Venice.”  It is said to have been a present from the Emperor Michel, son of Theophilus (824-864), to the Venetian Republic in recognition of services rendered, by either the Doge Gradonico, who died in 1864, or his predecessor, against the Mahommedan incursions.  Fragments only now remain, and these are preserved in the Church of St. Pietro, at Castello.

There is also a chair of historic fame preserved in Venice, and now kept in the treasury of St. Mark’s.  Originally in Alexandria, it was sent to Constantinople and formed part of the spoils taken by the Venetians in 1204.  Like both the other chairs, this was also ornamented with ivory plaques, but these have been replaced by ornamental marble.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Illustrated History of Furniture from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook