Transylvanian folk art is therefore a rich and diverse tradition, though the resulting works from furniture to clothing are seldom seen on the British market.
Modern Folk, a gallery in London’s Bermondsey, is on a mission to change that with its exhibition Transylvanian Families, which runs from September 13-30.
Traditional furniture, vintage clothes and modern fashions are available at the show. Among the pieces on offer are an elegant wardrobe painted with garlands of carnations and roses, a dresser embellished with colourful wooden tassels and a selection of wedding chests. Though a rustic carved-pine Saxon ark and an 1891 wedding chest may look very different, each chest is covered in the same ancient symbols of protection.
“Transylvanian art is so vibrant and joyful. It’s one of my favourites and is barely known outside Romania,” says the gallery’s Kitty Walsh. She has sourced some of the pieces directly from Negreni, a three-village commune in Romania where there is a huge antiques market with several centuries of tradition.
“This is a great opportunity to snap up some spectacular pieces before the international collectors catch on,” she adds.
Items for sale include decorative art dating from the early 20th century to the present day, such as a group of reverse glass paintings (priced from £65 up). A c.1900 Hungarian horsewoman’s outfit – complete with a sweeping skirt that would have been tucked in at the waistband – is on offer for £425.