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Casket

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (South, made)

  • Date:

    1440-1470 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bone, wood and brass

  • Museum number:

    2553-1856

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This bone and wood casket depicting hunting scenes is made in the South of the Netherlands in about 1440-1470.
It was probably used as a nuptial gift.
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.

Physical description

Casket, built around a wooden carcase, to which have been glued carved bone panels and strips. The lid has four panels depicting animals running through woods with the sun above; three seem to be dogs (that at the upper right with its prey in its mouth), while one appears to be a boar. The long sides each consist of two plaques, the short sides of one. The front shows a stag and a lion lying facing one another to each side of the lock plate. The right side depicts a dog, the back has a dromedary and a Bactrian camel lying facing one another, and the left side depicts a unicorn. The underside of the casket is ornamented with plaques of bone and dark stained wood in a checkerboard pattern; however, the pattern is 6 x 4 not 8 x 8, and thus could never have been used as a chess board. The lock plate, handle and hinges are of brass.
The casket was probably used as a nuptial gift.

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.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (South, made)

Date

1440-1470 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Bone, wood and brass

Dimensions

Height: 6 cm, Width: 13.7 cm, Depth: 9.4 cm

Object history note

Bought in Paris in 1856 , £1 8s.

Descriptive line

Casket, bone, wood and brass, with hunting scenes, South Netherlands, about 1440-1470

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1856. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 31
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929, p. 55
p. 9
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
I, p. 527, II, cat. no. 1324
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
part II, pp. 686-687
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. 686-687, cat. no. 236

Materials

Wood; Bone; Brass

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Checkerboard; Unicorn; Boar; Hare; Woods; Dromedary; Lion; Dogs; Animals; Stag; Sun; Camel

Categories

Accessories; Containers; Sculpture; Games

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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