VIEW OF UPPER HALL, LOOKING WEST.
On the west wall hangs the portrait of Past Master Grant, painted at the expense of members of the Company, by whom he was generally beloved.
On the north wall will be seen some antique Spanish leather wall coverings, lent by the Dire&ors of the South Kensington Museum. The use of leather for decorative purposes, such as wall coverings, was common in Europe during the Middle Ages. As early as the year 1316 the celebrated guild of “ Guadamacileros” of Barcelona, Spain, is spoken of as makers of ornamental and embossed leather, so called from the city of Gadames, where the craft originated, and the fashion later spread from Spain to France, the Netherlands, and Germany, in the northern portions of which especially it became very popular.
The material used was calf, sheep, and goat skins, which were covered with gold leaf on the grain side, or more often with silver leaf, and the earliest specimens show ornamentations in stamped designs coated with varnishes of transparent pigments. When silver leaf was used, a coat of yellow varnish was added to give the effect of gilt.
In the later examples, dating from the seventeenth century on, the grounding is invariably silver leaf, and the leather is generally embossed in low relief, produced by being dampened and pressed into matrices of pear-wood, or by powerful rollers. The design was then accentuated by paintings in opaque or translucent colours to Suit the fancy of the artist. To maintain the relief, a background of sand or other suitable material was often added. Leather prepared in this way made exceedingly durable and highly artistic wall coverings, which harmonized well with the dark wood panellings and ceilings also in vogue in former days.