Sometime between 1463-1464 George Chastellain, Jean de Montferrant and Jean Robertet exchanged poems and epistles that eventually became a manuscript titled, ‘Les Douze Dames de Rhétorique’ (The Twelve Ladies of Rhetoric). Each branch of rhetoric features a poem and the image of a women symbolizing the branch.
The women symbolizing Deduction is shown in a carpenter’s workshop and in the background is a construction site. With her hair covered and wearing an apron Deduction is dressed as a women that would be found helping out in the family workshop. In her role of explaining her branch of rhetoric and the scene in which she is set, she points to her head with one hand while holding a set of tools (square, dividers, plumb) in the other hand.
In her poem she explains: “Without a doubt I arrive late and I am slow to speak to merit an important place in this august assemblage. But, I am relevant, I function and I am quite useful for the completion of any beautiful work. Once it is assembled, one must give it a title because the more a work stands out for its rich materials and beautiful apperance, the more I apply a prudent hand to bring it glory and title.”
The books and tools in the workshop show the combination of thought and knowledge used by the master carpenter to develop and draw the building designs. In the background we see the carpenter’s knowledge and experience turned into the action of constructing several buildings. In this small illustration the craft of the carpenter is a perfect example of applying reasoning and knowlege (gained through experience or consultation) to solve a problem or to attain a specific result.
Now, consider the design and making of the staked chair in the ‘Anarchist’s Design Book’. Illustrations and actual pieces of staked furniture were studied. Experiments with the joint were made. Past chairmaking experience was used to develop designs. Models were constructed to adjust leg angles and test stability. Prototypes were built to work out any flaws. Thought, knowledge and action and the maker has a chair that will last for generations.
Of the many images of woodworking workshops I have found ‘Deduction’ is one of my favorites.
Below are two more versions of ‘Deduction’ probably copied from the one above. The tools in hand and other details are a bit different. Also, one of the authors had himself painted with the twelve ladies.
– Suzanne Ellison