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Casket

Casket

  • Place of origin:

    England (possibly, made)
    Germany (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1120-1140 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved bone and ivory with gilded copper mounts

  • Museum number:

    2440-1856

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This carved bone casket is made by an unknown artist in England in ca. ca. 1120-1140.
It is decorated with foliage scrolls and plaited and geometrical ornament in low relief, with gilded copper mountings.

Given the ubiquity of the leaf forms it is perhaps probable that the casket was made at the Continent (it was formerly suggested to originate from England) and a date around 1130 seems likely. It is of significance that the bottom of the casket (as an illustration of the reuse of earlier pieces) is made up of bone strips of ornament almost certainly of a German origin.
By the end of the 12th century the casket had been converted into a reliquary by the addition of gilt-copper mounts (three hinges replaced two) and lock, and had been embellished with small six-petalled rosettes. The rosettes are identical to those found on ivory caskets in the treasury of St Servatius in Maastricht, and the lock plate - with ball-headed nails - is also of very similar type to those found on the caskets there. The tiny gilt copper pinecone on the lock clasp enables the metalwork to be dated to around 1180-1200. It is therefore probable that the casket was modified in Maastricht or nearby in the Lower-Rhine area.

Physical description

Casket in carved bone, decorated with foliage scrolls and plaited and geometrical ornament in low relief, with gilded copper mountings. The four walls are decorated with three superimposed strips of stylised foliate and interlace ornament and the thin border strips contain small rectangular panels of interlace and other patterns. The lid has a central medallion with flower, surrounded by six triangular sections of foliage. The base of the casket is made up of two long bone strips with designs of spiral circles, of earlier date, and two incised bone strips at the ends. The casket is of composite construction, with the sides and lid made up of a large main panel of bone (with the exception of that at the front, which is ivory), surrounded by thin boarder strips of coarser bone.

Place of Origin

England (possibly, made)
Germany (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1120-1140 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved bone and ivory with gilded copper mounts

Dimensions

Height: 8 cm, Length: 15.5 cm, Width: 9.5 cm at bottom, Width: 9 cm at top

Object history note

Acquired, £13 4s.
Given the ubiquity of the leaf forms it is perhaps probable that the casket was made at the Continent (it was formerly suggested to originate from England) and a date around 1130 seems likely. It is of significance that the bottom of the casket (as an illustration of the reuse of earlier pieces) is made up of bone strips of ornament almost certainly of a German origin.
By the end of the 12th century the casket had been converted into a reliquary by the addition of gilt-copper mounts (three hinges replaced two) and lock, and had been embellished with small six-petalled rosettes. The rosettes are identical to those found on ivory caskets in the treasury of St Servatius in Maastricht, and the lock plate - with ball-headed nails - is also of very similar type to those found on the caskets there. The tiny gilt copper pinecone on the lock clasp enables the metalwork to be dated to around 1180-1200. It is therefore probable that the casket was modified in Maastricht or nearby in the Lower-Rhine area.

Descriptive line

Casket, carved bone with gilded copper mountings, Meuse-Rhine or possibly England, ca.1120-1140

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

Beckwith, John. Ivory carvings in early medieval England. London : Harvey, Miller and Redcalf, 1972, p. 137, ill.199.
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.
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 270-3, cat.no. 71

Production Note

or Meuse-Rhine area / with bone panels and gilt copper mounts of late 12th century

Materials

Bone; Copper; Ivory

Techniques

Engraving; Gilding; Carving

Subjects depicted

Scrolling foliage; Ornament

Categories

Containers; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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