ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference Preprints, Copenhagen 4-8 September 2017, Linking Past and Future. 2017
In this contribution, a late-medieval technique for constructing polychrome wooden sculptures is discussed. This rare ‘composite block’ method employed blocks made from wainscot boards glued together. The technique is compared to the more common method of carving a solid block cut from a tree trunk, followed by hollowing out of the block to reduce the risk of cracking and splitting. The composite block technique is not widely known and has not yet been comprehensively studied. It merits further attention because it reveals the medieval carver’s advanced technical skills, in-depth material knowledge and concern for quality. Development of the construction technique during the 15th century in Northern Europe is explored by means of a case study of one such sculpture from the Museum of Cultural History, Norway. Northern German, northern Netherlandish and Florentine composite block techniques are examined, pointing to parallels within art production both north and south of the Alps.
This chapter was originally published in ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference Preprints, Copenhagen, 4–8 September 2017, ed. J. Bridgland, art. 1703. Paris: International Council of Museums.