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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gesso reliefs; gilt ground

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Lady Dorothy Nevil

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Casket made from wood decorated with reliefs in gesso on a gilt ground. The top of the lid, which is hinged, is raised in the shape of an ogee, and surrounded by a plaited ornament. It contains a compartment covered by a slide. Round the sides of the box, separated by pilasters, are the following: Regulus, Quintus Curtius; on the sides Uncius Scaevola and an unidentified subject; on the back two representations of offerings to deities. Below is a scrolling vine border and a lower moulding decorated with a cable pattern.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


1500-1550 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gesso reliefs; gilt ground


Height: 12.1 cm, Width: 20.3 cm, Depth: 13.3 cm, :

Object history note

Given to the V&A in 1912 by the Lady Dorothy Nevill [R.P.12/230317].

Historical context note

Comparable objects

See Pastiglia Boxes, hidden treasures of the Italian Renaissance (Cofanetti in Pastiglia), catalogue from the exhibition Pastiglia Boxes: hidden treasures of the Italian Renaissance from the collection of Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome: Lowe Art Museum, Miami, Feb. 13 - April 28, 2002, cat. XII

Descriptive line

North Italian casket, first half of 16th century

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

Patrick de Winter: "A little-known creation of Renaissance decorative arts: the white lead pastigilia box", Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell' Arte, 14 (1984), pp. 9 - 131. Cat. no. 57

Labels and date

Small display curated by James Yorke, gallery 126, 1984-1985

The lid of the cassetta is unlike any others of the same collection but similato the one in the Kunstgewerbe Museum, Berlin. Lids with secret compartments and sliding tops were made in other workshops and although this one lacks pastiglia on the lid, unlike the Berlin Cassetta, it probably belonged to the box in its original state. The border framing the pyramid has an interwoven pattern whereas the cornice has the expected interlacing. The base has a vine and flower frieze and the same interlacing as on the cornice. On the front are “The Torments of Regulus” and the self-sacrifice of Manlius Curtius, on the back Brutus addressing the Roman people and “The Rape of Lucretia”, judging from the outline left where the figure has broken off. The stories are separated by a pilaster, placed at the centre, on both faces. On the left side is the story of Mucius Scaevola and on the right Judith with the head of Holophernes. The compositions are more compact; small clumps of figures huddle round the protagonist rather than spread themselves out. Recognizable figures like the bearded Venetian soldier and merchant appear. Regulus is a truncated version of Brutus. The figures are set against a stippled gilt background, with an absence of townscapes. [1984-1985]


Wood; Ground; Gilt; Gesso



Subjects depicted



Containers; Woodwork; Medieval and renaissance


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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