Royal Armouries

Thomas Quellin(us) and the Horse Armoury

Images

watercoloured sketch of a line of armoured figures on horseback

Watercoloured sketch of the Line of Kings

  • watercoloured sketch of a line of armoured figures on horseback

    Watercoloured sketch of the Line of Kings

  • monochrome photo of an armour helmet

    Close helmet from a composite 'Maximilian' armour. German, about 1520 (II.12)

  • monochrome photo of a three-quarter length armour on a stand

    Harquebusier's armour. (II.108)

  • monochrome photo of a pair of prop pistols and embroidered holsters

    Dummy pistols and pistol holsters for the figure of William III in the Line of Kings. (XVI.1 - 4)

  • colour photo of a boy's full length armour with a wooden head

    Boy's armour. (II.126)

  • monochrome line drawing of a line of armoured figures on horseback

    The Horse Armoury, by an unknown artist, early 19th century © Royal Armouries 2013

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    James II from Charles Knight, London, 1842.

  • colour photo of full-length armour with fluted decoration

    Composite armour. German, about 1520 (II.14, III.755)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VIII

    Carved wooden head of Henry VIII. English, about 1689-91 (XVII.1)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Edward III

    Carved wooden head of Edward III. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.41)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry V

    Carved wooden head of Henry V. English, about 1688-91 (XVII.44)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VI

    Carved wooden head of Henry VI. English, about 1688-91 (XVII.43)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of James I

    Carved wooden head of James I. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.47)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of William I

    Carved wooden head of William I. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.777)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse against a stone wall

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. (XVII.10)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.11)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.12)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.14)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.16)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1865-90 (XVII.17)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.18)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.30)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. (XVII.7)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.8)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

Thomas Quellin(us) and the Horse Armoury

Description

In 1688 many craftsmen became involved in the development of a new, expanded and improved Line of Kings display. The centrepiece of this new exhibition was to be a line of life-sized wooden horses, each bearing the armoured figure of a king. It was decided to buy a complete new set of carved horses and figures with kings’ faces, with the exception of the carvings made by Grinling Gibbons in 1685-86. To complete the task, the Board of Ordnance turned to a variety of artists and craftsmen, including Thomas Quellin.

Gibbons had supplied a horse and figure of Charles II in 1685 and one of Charles I in 1686 at a price of £40 each. However, in 1688 the Board did not turn to Gibbons, the leading woodcarver in England, but instead issued contracts for varying numbers of wooden horses and figures with kings’ faces to Quellin and four others: William Emmett, William Morgan, John Nost I and Marmaduke Townson. Between them these five carvers and sculptors made seventeen wooden horses and figures for the Line: several of the heads with faces survive and about half of the horses.

Thomas Quellin(us) was a sculptor who supplied only one horse and figure for the Line. His limited involvement in the project was probably the result of his departure from England in 1689 to settle in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he had a long and successful career as a sculptor. He and his studio produced numerous baroque monuments in marble and stone for churches in Northern Germany and Denmark.
However, before his visit to London ended Office of Ordnance documents recorded:

’10th December 1688
Received into his Majesty’s stores of Armoury & c from Thomas Quillans the statues hereafter mentioned per warrant the 10th July 1688 viz:
Horse statue of wood carved 1 att £20-00s-00d
Statue of wood whereon a face is carved’

It is unlikely that the horse or carved head made by Thomas Quellin will be identified. Later works by Thomas are very different in both subject matter and materials. Indeed, given the fact that about half the horses made in 1688-90 have not survived, it is as likely as not that his horse is one of those that has been destroyed.

Thomas Quellin’s brief involvement with the project was the result of a series of interconnections between his family, several of whom were distinguished draughtsmen and sculptors, and the other craftsmen involved in making the wooden horses and royal figures.

Thomas (1661-1709) was a son and pupil of Artus Quellin the Younger (1625-1700), a member of a dynasty of sculptors originating mainly from Antwerp. After completing his apprenticeship in the low Countries, Thomas moved to London where his older brother had a sculptor’s business. His brother was known in England as Arnold Quellin (1653-1686), although his name was really the same as his father – Artus.

Arnold Quellin had worked on the decorations at Windsor Castle from 1678, alongside Grinling Gibbons with whom he went into partnership from 1681. Their partnership was problematic but by 1685-6 Gibbons and Arnold Quellin were collaborating again. This time they worked on the decorative scheme for the new Catholic Chapel Royal at Whitehall Palace – at exactly the time Gibbons’ workshop was making two wooden horses and figures for the Tower.

Arnold Quellin’s studio was also heavily involved in the design and manufacture of sculptures of kings for the new Royal Exchange, as well as sculptures of the Stuart kings and the Earl of Strathmore for Glamis Castle . With so many important commissions, it is easy to see why it might have appeared a good idea for the young Thomas to join his brother’s workshop in London at this time. However, another possibility is that Thomas came to London in the summer of 1686, when Arnold fell ill and soon died, leaving a busy studio without its head.

Little is known of Thomas’ work in London except the wooden horse and figure for the Tower of London, for which he received £20. He may have found that he was not needed at his late brother’s workshop, which was quickly taken over by John Nost I, the foreman, who married Arnold’s widow Frances – who had inherited the business.

Thomas is known to have arrived in Copenhagen by the summer of 1689, where he helped manage his father’s studio as well as developing a business of his own creating funerary monuments. He eventually returned to Antwerp where he died and was buried in 1709.

Related Objects

William Emmett and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

Grinling Gibbons and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

Marmaduke Townson and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

John Nost I and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

Nicholas Alcock and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

William Morgan and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

Composite ‘Maximilian’ Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1520 | Object number: II.12

Composite ‘Maximilian’ Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1520 | Object number: II.14, III.755

Boy's Armour, known as the ‘Jeffrey Hudson,’ ‘Richard, Duke of York’ or ‘Dwarf’ Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Almain Corslet Click on the title link above to find out more.

Harquebusier’s Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1630 | Object number: II.108

The Genesis of the Line of Kings, 1685-1692 Click on the title link above to find out more.

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