final issue 30 web - Flipbook - Page 50
Above fig. 6 Detail of the original L-shaped
rail with pigment remains. © Historical
Above fig. 7 Golden arm-ring from Aggersborg,
9th11th century. © National Museum,
fully painted and gilded. By covering the wood, and
imitate precious materials such as ivory, gold and silver
through elaborate carving styles and the application of
pigments the chair would have acquired a prestigious and
Above fig. 8 Oseberg Chair, 9th century.
© Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.
The floral motifs on the chair offer a close point of resemblance to some early Romanesque capitals ( Fig. 9 ) found
in the Cathedral (Blindheim, 1966).
The unusually fine technical design makes it very likely
that the chair is an urban work and performed by a master
situated within the circle of different crafts disciplines
based around the Cathedral, where contact with several
English carving schools has been closer than anywhere
else in Norway. It is Fisher (1963) again, who highlights
the connection between the motifs of the chair and the
carved figures present on 12th century English church
portals (Fig. 11). Further links to English art from about
1100 can also be established through illuminated manuscripts, especially from Winchester, which represent
leaping lions, lush acanthus leaves and initials with neatly
braided banding (Fig.12).
The fact that the chair was painted and its particular
construction style clearly relates it to more ancient examples of box-shaped chairs, such as the Oseberg Chair (fig.
8). Historically this type of chair or throne was built for
wealthy and high-ranking individuals, as in the case of
the Oseberg Chair, which was found in the famous Viking
ship burial of the same name. This detail is also highlighted by the richly carved back of the chair, which shows
that the piece stood free and was intended to be seen from
all sides (see fig. 2).
Fischer (1963) and Blindheim (1966) see the cross-over
between different crafts and visual styles present in the
Tylday Chair as evidence for its place of construction. In
the mid 12th century, Nidaros was the principal cultural
centre in the northern hemisphere to offer such a unique
exchange of varied expressions of craftsmanship. Considering the foundation of the Archdiocese of Nidaros
around 1152, it seems furthermore likely that the chair
was commissioned by the diocese and might even have
functioned as a bishop’s throne. Conversely, it does not
seem probable that the chair was made for St. Olav’s
Church in Tyldal or Tylldalen, where the chair was discovered in 1879. Tyldal is located in a parallel valley to
the Østerdalen valley, which represented the main route
and pilgrim trail to Nidaros in medieval times. However,
the chair appears much too precious and elaborate to be
intended for a small parish church.
Most animal and human-like figures on the chair seem to
be engaged in a fight. This is also true for the central scene
represented in the round on the backrest of the chair,
which sees a man brandishing a sword or dagger against
two mystical creatures, one of which is biting his beard or
neck. It would exceed the purpose of this paper to discuss
possible interpretations of the represented scene but it is
important to note its stylistic resemblance to a motif found
on a section of a decorated string course from St Augus
tine’s Abbey, Canterbury, dated to the 12. Century (Fig.
The iconography of the ornaments present on the chair
offer a further link to Nidaros and its Cathedral. When
looking closer at the ornamentals, three distinct groups
can be determined; acanthus leaves, ribbon braids, and
fantastical animal and human figures.
Above left, fig. 9 Capitals, Trondheim Cathedral, c. 1019-1120
Images from: Blindheim (1966). Above right, fig. 10 Tyldal Chair,
detail. © Historical Museum Oslo.
Conservation & Heritage Journal