Art historical research is essential for our assortment of replicas of objects from the Bronze Age to the Napoleontic Wars. This means more than just recognizing the art style and design of an object.
Until the Renaissance, people had a different perspective of art than nowadays. A good smith, mason or tailor was seen as an artisan. The more space and money people were willing to give his work, the more beautiful an object or building could be made. All objects and buildings from our history are connected to each other by trends and traditions. These traditions developed relatively slow, as it was not appreciated if a smith or mason gave his work a totally other appearance when he was in a creative mood. Objects and buildings had to fit in their era. As a result clear art styles were followed, nowadays this has huge advantages for us with regard to dating objects and buildings.
A replica that is not art historically accurate is not a replica! It can be compared to a Rolls Royce without a bodywork. So art history is involved in every detail of our work. One of our employees is an art historian, but all our employees are trained in recognizing and dating art styles.
One of the more important form of our art historical research is looking at objects and garments on paintings or in manuscripts. This often provides excellent results, but you always have to keep in mind that the maker of the image was not always familiar with the object or the circumstances in which it was used. For example, the soldiers of the Italian city states wear beautiful parade and tournament armours on paintings that depict battles, the farmers of Les très riches heures de Duc de Berry wore expensive garments while working the fields and helmets in the Maciejowski Bible are completely cleaved by swords. This does not mean that the images are useless, but that the researchers should always be careful. The images provide a context in which the objects were used and an insight in the perception of the historical human. Delicate objects that do not survive the test of time and are thus not excavated, can be rediscovered by looking at images. The accessibility of images plays a major role in art historical research. The number of medieval manuscripts and books is more than ten thousands. Yet the Maciejowski Bible and the Manesse Codex are the most popular works among re-enactors of the high Middle Ages. They are the most accessible manuscripts as well. During our art historical and literary research we often encounter images from other manuscripts indirectly. These are saved in our database if we do not already possess the images of the manuscripts on paper or as a digital version.
Special attention must be paid to historical objects that were extremely influenced by fashion, like shoes, garments and plate armour. Especially in regard to plate armour, errors in the style and trends can be very expensive. Plate armour was subject to change and in some areas it was parallel to the clothing fashion of its era. A suit of armour from the early 16th century enormously deviated from another armour fifty years later and virtually no armour was exactly the same. A lot depended on where the armour was made or where the makers came from. Because correctly making suits of armour is such a challenge, we have made it our specialism. In our database we have saved thousands of (tournament) armours and indexed them on technology, qualities and finish (decorations). Plate armour is very diverse and techniques that were used can be very advanced. This is why we enrich our knowledge on this subject daily.
One of our art historical and technical highlights is a luxurious cabasset. The original was made around 1580 in Milan. The helmet is obviously meant to symbolize the wealth of the owner, but it is more than that: the used images all refer to good governance and victory. Click here for more information on this special helmet.
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