- Place of origin:
- Materials and Techniques:
Carved elephant ivory and metal
- Credit Line:
Alfred Williams Hearn Gift
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
This ivory panel, made in the middle of 14th century in Paris, is from the front of a casket. To the right a woman with a branch in her hand rides on horseback, followed by a servant carrying a hare on a pole. Behind him are a seated woman with a falcon and a man on horseback holding a falcon, accompanied by a servant and a dog. In the centre is the lock hole with four silver nuts in the shape of fleurs-de-lys.
It seems likely, given the carefuk specificity of the images, that a narrative sequence rather than a series of generic, unconnected, scenes of romance was intended here. The conspicious repetition of figures (e.g the woman with the veil) further supports this hypothesis. Narrative caskets often began their stories on the left side of the casket front, indicating that the present panel depicted the earliest scenes in the story.
From about 1320 onwards, ivory caskets featuring secular subject matter began to be produced in substantial numbers, often sharing the imagery to be found on mirror backs. Some of the earlier examples are also some of the grandest, and must have been aimed at a wealthy clientele. The nature of the subject matter, which almost always concentrates on courtly love, chivalry and romance, indicates that the caskets were used for the exchange of courtship and wedding gifts. The most important type among the early caskets was what has become known as the ‘composite’ casket, illustrating more than one secular tale. This group of large and impressive caskets, of which at least eight examples survive, illustrate a variety of secular tales and themes. The primary function was not to stimulate memories of the viewers, but to delight and entertain.
Carved ivory panel from the front of a casket depicting hunting scenes. In three compartments each surmounted by an archade of two trefoil arches with plain roll mouldings.
On the left is a man riding out to hunt, a hawk on his left hand, accompanied by a servant and dog. In the centre are two figures on either side of the missing lock plate, with a small tree below; On the left side is a woman with a veil sitting on a rock and holding a lure in front of a hawk on her left wrist, and with her horse behind her; on her right, a young man (possibly the same figure as in the first scene) walks towards the right with a stave in his right hand and with a hare slung on another stick over his shoulder. The final scene depicts a woman (wearing the same veil) with a branch in her hand riding on horseback. followed by a servant carrying a hare on a pole.
In the centre is the lock hole with four silver nuts in the shape of fleurs-de-lys.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Carved elephant ivory and metal
Width: 18.5 cm, Height: 6.2 cm
Object history note
In the collection of J.H. Fitzhenry, London, and on loan to the V&A before 1913; Fitzhenry sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 18 November 1913, lot 29; probably bought by Thomas Sutton, London and Eastbourne, and sold to Mrs Ellen Hearn of Menton, France, in 1914 (as recorded in Mrs Hearn's acquisitions book, kept in the V&A Archive and Registry); donated by Mrs Hearn in 1923 as part of the Alfred Williams Hearn Gift.
Panel, carved ivory, from a casket depicting hunting scenes, France (Paris), ca. 1320-1340
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929. Part II. p. 52.
Gaborit-Chopin, Danielle. Ivoires Médiévaux, V-XV siècle. Paris, 2003
I, p. 479, note I, II, cat. no. 1276 bis
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
part II, pp. 664-665
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part II, pp. 664-665, cat. no. 229
Tree; Woman; Hawk; Horse; Man; Dog
Sculpture; Sport; Containers