In the first room of the permanent display, objects of fine and applied arts created during the period from the 14th to the 16th century are on view; however, only some of them actually bear the characteristics of the formal lanugage of the Gothic. While in some parts of Europe, primarily in Italy, the features of the Gothic had already been replaced with those of the Renaissance as early as the 15th century, in Germany, England they lasted until the early or indeed deep into the 16th century.
In use objects, elements of Gothic vocabulary are often used as decorative details. Unlike the church furniture, which followed the development of the style in parallel with the architecture, in the making of secular furniture, they appeared only during the 14th century. In the domain of furniture design, this is the period in which production and reorganisation within the guilds was advanced, leading to specialisation within the carpentry trade. As well as decorative motifs taken from architecture – the pointed arches, rosettes, tracery, trefoils, quatrefoils, plant motifs – a style of ornamentation particularly characteristic of furniture and adapted to the traits of the material was developed.
Relatively few items of furniture have been preserved from the late medieval period, making it not very easy to give a complete illustration of the way in which secular interiors of the period were furnished. A chest is on display – the most widespread type of Gothic furniture; as well as is primary function for the storage of clothing, when equipped with cushions it also was used for seating and sometimes would be used as a table and was an essential part of any woman’s dowry. Along with the chest, the furnishings of an interior in the Late Gothic period comprised several basic types of furniture – chair, bench, bed, table, and in some areas the cabinet, as well as the dresser. Tables tended to be assemblable, consisting of separate legs and tops, and were put up when needed.
In the Gothic period, the cold stone walls of the interiors were often covered by tapestries which also had a decorative function. The earliest tapestry from the small but important museum collection has the stylistic features of the Late Gothic, but already possesses some Renaissance elements. It was done in Flemish Tournai, which, along with Arras in France, was in the 15th and at the beginning of the 16th century, one of the greatest centres for the production of tapestries.
The sculptural works on show, carved in wood, polychromed and gilt, are fragments of bygone altar assemblages of the Late Gothic period, the origins of which are related to the circle of alpine and subalpine areas of the 15th and early 16th centuries. The relief Meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate is the sculptural work of a master craftsman called Hans from the Styrian town of Judenburg.
The statue of Mary and Child, today located in the niche of a wing altar that is not its original home, and the figural composition Mourning of Christ are typical east Alpine productions of about 1500, while a small bas relief of St George in combat with the dragon, of the same origins, reveals the hand of a master of the first decade of the 16th century.
A jug found in waters off the island of Krk is one of the earliest specimens of Italian majolica in the MUO ceramics collection; it was made in Faenza or Orvieto in around 1400. It is decorated with green-brown plant ornamentation (maiolica arcaica, as it is called) typical of the period and the region.
The bell on display is the oldest preserved and dated bell in the holdings of the Museum; it comes from the Chapel of Holy Trinity at Grobnik. According to the inscription on the bell “+ M.III.LXXXIII. FE” it was cast in 1383 by the craftsman Mihael, who was at work along the northern coast and in Carinthia.