The Spanish Foot
First, I’d like to thank John Kissel. On a recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, John took a number of photos in the period furniture area that he was kind enough to share with me. John and I briefly discussed the wide variation in “Spanish Foot” designs. I think the shot below says it all.
One might ask, “why is it called a Spanish foot?” My answer is, I’m not sure. I can only surmise that this was one of many decorative post terminations used by Continental craftsman during the Baroque period. This style was heavily influenced by Spanish Baroque artisans and approved by Holy Mother Church. (Interestingly enough Spain also gave us the Inquisition, at about the same time.) The Spanish foot seems to have followed aristocratic Catholics around Europe then made it’s was to England in the furniture that we now refer to as Jacobean (the Stuart period) which ended (stylistically) with William and Mary. I’m hoping that my friend, Jack Plane will “weigh in” and provide a little more background. Again, if you’re not visiting Jack’s blog on a regular basis, you’re cheating yourself.
Here’s a look at a number of Spanish feet. Basically, they all begin as right or obtuse trapezoids. From that point, it’s all a matter of imagination.
From the craftsman’s point of view, the good news is that the Spanish foot is much easier to produce than it looks. It requires the use of very few tools. In fact, a simple (yet very satisfying) version can be manufactured with a handsaw, a couple of bench chisels and (perhaps) a file (or $200 rasp, if you’ve got one).
The Spanish foot is not for everyone. It seems that you either love it or hate. But it’s quick and unique and may have some contemporary applications. Or maybe I just have a fetish!