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Coffer lid

  • Place of origin:


  • Date:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Walnut, Carved and gilded.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Alfred de Pass

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Furniture, Room 133, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery, case BY4, shelf WALL

Physical description

The lid consists of a solid plank to which is nailed a carved framework surround which forms an overhanging rim. The front edge of this rim is carved with a scalloped band of ornament. A grotesque mask is carved at each end. The underside of the lid is divided into three continuous carved and gilded panels. The whole of the design is carved into the wood. The panels are surrounded by a border of feather ornament. The middle square encloses a small mercury tin amalgam mirror which is much damaged. The mirror is held in place by a fabric cord coated in a resin.The mirror is set into a square of five bands of carved leafy ornament, filling the entire zone of the square. The two squares on either side are identical and contain a stylised crowned double headed eagle. Leaves sprout from the crest of the carved wings. Below the fanned tail of the eagle is a five-stalked stylised vase of flowers. A tapering leaf form is carved on either side of the eagle.Pairs of similar leaves are carved on either side of the vase. A meandering stylised flower or plant surrounds the top and both sides of the square. A green painted band surrounds the whole of the three panels. There is evidence of a thick layer of fly dropping remnants encrusted in the green paint around the inside edge of the lid and around the nails. There is a charred and burnt out hole in the centre of the top where the lock would have been located. There are two iron hinges on either side of the top.

The whole of the decoration on the underside of the lid is carved into the wood. This is then water-gilded over a thin white ground (gesso) over brown/red bole. The very thin layer of gesso and the bole is only applied on the raised areas and not on the background. The gesso has been applied over the entire surface, even under the layer of green paint. The punch work on the two outer panels appears to have been made into the wood and then gilded. The punchwork on the central panel is done on top of the gilding. There are two types of punching. One using a round ended punch tool and a second using a serrated edged tool for the more irregular pattern.

Place of Origin




Materials and Techniques

Walnut, Carved and gilded.


Height: 57.5 cm includes hinges hanging down below, Width: 136 cm, Depth: 10 cm

Descriptive line

Greek or Turkish, 1600-1700

Labels and date

Chest lid
About 1600–1700

Greece or Turkey

Walnut, carved and water-gilded, with some paint
Mirror (original): glass with mercury–tin amalgam

Given by Alfred de Pass
Museum no. W.18-1909

In contrast to the Bateman chest, here the gesso was not carved. Instead, all the carving was done directly into the wood. Following the application of the gold leaf, the background was textured with delicate punchwork.

The silvering of mirrors involved another method known as ‘mercury–tin amalgam’. When glass is pressed over tin foil flooded with mercury, a reflective alloy is formed.


Walnut; Material; Walnut; Gold leaf


Carving; Gilding




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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