Carved oak panels

karinlSeptember 10, 2011

These are three carved oak panels that I picked up at an estate dealer a few weeks ago. They are framed in oak as well. The carving is quite extraordinary and I can't quite figure whether they were done as wall art in the first place or perhaps framed up later, maybe after being taken off some furniture or built-in panelling. They are big, about 20x25 inches, although the actual piece of wood the carving is on is smaller. One of the carved panels is a bit curved with age.

The carving is quite extraordinary. Some of the stems actually overlay lower levels with gaps underneath. I'd be interested in any theories anyone has about their genesis and rationale.

Three panels:

The back, with the cut for the hanger quite clearly done with a power saw:

The colour is classic golden oak, but I took the photos outdoors on a bright day so it they look like a cooler colour. On the second and third pictures you can see a hole at the side of the panels as if they were previously attached to something else.

Karin L

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They were part of a fabulous late 19th century piece....side board or dresser likely.
What a shame the whole was broken up! But enjoy what you have.....and imagine what the piece they were originally on was like.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 7:31PM
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Linda, how can you tell with such certainty? Just curious and would like to learn something new. I was thinking they were wonderful examples of folk art.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 3:39PM
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Look at the back. It appears to me that the center piece is much older than the surrounding wood. I have seen quite a few fabulous cupboards and buffets with that type of carving. I don't believe the carvings are oak, because oak would not take well to that type of carving.
I have a distinct memory of examining such a piece somewhere where I was not allowed to touch but could get very a museum or a historic home like you might find in Newport.
Probably they could have been made as a decoration to be framed....but I think they were once part of something else.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 4:57PM
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Thanks, Linda and Cyn. I have been trying to imagine what they might once have been part of, and am having trouble. One reason is that the carved part is so pristine that I have a hard time believing that whatever they were part of would have had to be taken apart. A built-in in a house being torn down or renovated would maybe explain that.

The carvings are definitely oak - this photo may show that better. The man I bought them from has been in the antiques and appraisal business for some time and that was one issue that had him somewhat bemused as well. The only sign of age on them is a label on the back from an antique auction house that closed in about 1993, so that at least rules out some sort of modern laser carving or something!

This photo also shows the gaps under some of the stems; the extent to which the carving is realistically layered. I have seen a fair bit of carving on antique furniture, but this is unusual to me.

Anyway, enjoy them I will, thanks!

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 10:57AM
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I'm just theorizing, but I have a difficult time seeing these as being reclaimed from a functional case good. The carved lines and tips are just too sharp... showing no wear whatsoever from even careful use, light cleaning, or just normal degradation.

The wood itself (yes, it is oak) appears to be older than the actual carvings. Looking at the nail holes in the panels, as well as the framing, my guess would be that it is reclaimed wood that was later carved, framed, and intended as wall art.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 11:45AM
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I see the oak grain in the close up.
In googling Antique carved oak panels....the link below was my first hit.
Note the furniture in the background. I believe they are panels from something similar.
As for the idea that carved oak panels would show wear....note the dates of some of the carved panels pictured....I think these are no where near as old. I am sure the furniture they came from or the panel on the staircase or over a built in buffet was very grand.
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful: carved oak

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 12:37PM
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Linda, there is some neat stuff at that link! Seeing really old stuff does, to me, bring these sharply into the 20th century. The issue of the motifs kind of has me toying with Mikk's theory, and I agree that the extra nail holes in the back suggest that the framing wood, at least, is reclaimed. The carvings strike me as no older than the Arts and Crafts era, possibly newer than that.

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 5:53PM
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One other aspect would be that in case goods... as illustrated by those pictures, the carvings would tend to be symmetrical and of the same theme. The OP's photos are clearly unique.

Not to say that they aren't "old/antique" though. Ie., the wood may be reclaimed 150 year old wood with a 100-50 year old carving. I personally wouldn't place the carvings quite that old, but certainly well done... very attractive... and deserve a prominent display point. Good purchase any way you look at it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 9:32PM
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These carvings are very nice. At first, I though those may have been plaster casts mounted on a wood back, but you closeup convinced me those are made of wood.

The back of the frame says to me "reclaimed wood", probably from oak cabinet doors. There are holes from prior constuctions. Also, the back is oddly stained; Maybe it got wet while laying on a basement floor. It could have been discolored before it was made into this frame. The way the hanging notch is made reminds me of something from a home wood shop. Its simple and effective.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 2:12AM
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