Early 16th Century Carved Oak ‘Romayne’ Panel
Early 16th Century Carved Oak ‘Romayne’ Panel

Early 16th Century Carved Oak ‘Romayne’ Panel

c. 1520 to 1540 England

Offered by Thomas Coulborn & Sons


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Carved in relief in the classical manner with a male portrait facing to sinister, carved with a curly goatee beard, and wearing a helm or sallet with raised visor and pointed upturned tail, and an open-necked gown with embroidered shirt below. Placed within a roundel made with stylised leaves and berries. The garlanding issuing leaves above and a pair of flowers below.

The ‘Romayne’ style was the name given to the new classical style of English sculpture at the time of Henry VIII, influenced by the Italian Renaissance. English craftsmen introduced the stock elements of the Italian taste – which included classical columns and pilasters, strapwork, grotesque animals, curly arabesque foliage and framed profile heads (as in this piece), recognised by the English as ‘Romayne’ or Roman. ‘Romayne’ panels were one of the most distinctive features of the new style, combining both the portrait head and a typical accompaniment of secondary decorative detail. See Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture: The British Tradition (Antique Collectors’ Club, 1990), pp. 425-427 for a discussion on ‘Romayne’ panels. ‘Romayne’ panels rarely depicted portraits of individuals, but were more usually representations of quasi-classical heroes.

In his article 'Early Domestic Oak Panels', published in Antique Collecting, Mark Stephen speculates that the first sculptural source for the `Romayne’ head could be traced to Hampton Court Palace. It was here that Thomas Wolsey commissioned the Italian sculptor Giovanni da Majano to make a suite of eight classical head roundels for the outside of the Palace. Visitors to the Palace must have admired the new style and slowly spread the taste for classicism throughout the country. The classical wreath motif framing the Hampton Court emperors can be seen in this example.

Compare the helmet worn by the subject of this panel to those worn in two ‘Romayne’ panels in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, which share the same up-turned visor, row of rivets, and upturned, pointed tail. The first [Accession Number: 2011 to K-1899] was removed from Abbey House, Waltham Abbey, Essex, which was the home of Sir Anthony Denny (1501 - 1549), after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s. See also Accession Number: 222-1898. The helmeted heads were derived from Italian Renaissance motifs, and were based on those on Roman coins.
Literature: Illustrated in Mark Stephen, 'Early Domestic Oak Panels', Antique Collecting, December 2013, Figure 3.
Height 39.00 cm (15.35 inches)
Width 24.00 cm (9.45 inches)
Stock Code
Carved Oak
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

Thomas Coulborn & Sons
Vesey Manor
64 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QP

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