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Miscellaneous > Portrait/Romayne Panels

Portrait Panels

1. Pair of early 16th-century Northern French oak portrait/romayne panels.

This unusual pair of panels show a man and a woman within roundels in the familiar romayne-head style where men are normally shown as Classical warriors and their companions well-dressed women.  Here, however, the woman is naked and gazes boldly at the man, while he stares rather fixedly at her chest.  

On romayne panels the decoration outside the roundels usually makes some reference to the qualities of the people portrayed, to indicate their suitability for public office or their fidelity as a spouse, for example.  A bird such as a crane symbolises vigilance, a heart fidelity.  PortraitsThese two panels have animals in the lower half, each playing a musical instrument, the bagpipes beneath the woman and a shawm beneath the man; the bagpiper is a fox with a fine bushy tail, the shawm player perhaps a bear.  Both the instruments were primarily used outdoors because of their raucous sound and were played at fun-loving, rowdy festivals.  The man and woman are perhaps in pursuit of  a different sort of fun.

2. Fine Pair of early 16th-century English oak portrait panels c.1520. The man has a luxuriant beard and decorated hat and collar, the woman an elaborate headdress and similarly decorated collar.

The elongated necks are an idiosyncratic style of carving that seems to be particular to late medieval/early Renaissance English carving.

3. English Tudor oak portrait panel of a man, c.1525, probably a courtier at the court of King Henry VIII rather than the monarch himself.

4. Early 16th-century oak portrait heads of a couple, each emerging from the jaws of a beast.  Probably Flemish.

5. Tall 16th-century Flemish oak romayne-head panel showing a central head wearing a Roman helmet.

The panel illustrates the dilemma of the man portrayed.  Above him stands a crane on one leg, representing vigilance, a virtue required in public life, to which the man presumably aspires.  Below him two horned devils toss a ball between them waiting to do the same with the man's soul which hovers just above them.  His vigilance, or the lack thereof, wiill decide his fate.

6. Large, finely and deeply carved 16th-century French oak Renaissance portrait panel.

The carving may always have been a roundel but it is possible that it started life as a square or rectangular panel.