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Games Board and Accessories

1525-75 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Pair of hinged, games boards forming a box with spring catch. When open it forms a chess board with raised shallow borders, the inside arranged for backgammon within raised borders, with two central, rectangular panels of distinctive stylised floral sprays. With two loose boards which were originally held in grooves on the outside, for Fox and Geese, and nine men's morris (both with chess grids on the reverse). Along the raised rim are holes for markers, six arranged singly and 24 in pairs separated by squares of mosaic Made of oak? with marquetry (over canvas and paper) of rosewood (or ebony), ivory (some stained green), silver and other woods, and panels of micromosaic on the removable boards.

With 15 ivory and 15 ebony draughtsman. There are also two leather dice cups and two dice, two markers and a flag all of ivory.

Restored, probably during the 18th century (based on fragments of paper from an 18th century dictionary used in re-glueing loose veneers), and again more recently when the shaped inner edgings to the backgammon boards were replaced. The lock and hinges replacements.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 40 parts.

  • Dice Box
  • Dice Box
  • Panel
  • Panel
  • Games Board
  • Marker
  • Marker
  • Flag
  • Die
  • Die
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
  • Draught
Materials and Techniques
Oak board with marquetry of ivory, ebony and coloured woods with ivory and ebony accessories
Brief Description
Southern Spain, 1500-1600; ebony, ivory and marquetry, leather

Physical Description
Pair of hinged, games boards forming a box with spring catch. When open it forms a chess board with raised shallow borders, the inside arranged for backgammon within raised borders, with two central, rectangular panels of distinctive stylised floral sprays. With two loose boards which were originally held in grooves on the outside, for Fox and Geese, and nine men's morris (both with chess grids on the reverse). Along the raised rim are holes for markers, six arranged singly and 24 in pairs separated by squares of mosaic Made of oak? with marquetry (over canvas and paper) of rosewood (or ebony), ivory (some stained green), silver and other woods, and panels of micromosaic on the removable boards.



With 15 ivory and 15 ebony draughtsman. There are also two leather dice cups and two dice, two markers and a flag all of ivory.



Restored, probably during the 18th century (based on fragments of paper from an 18th century dictionary used in re-glueing loose veneers), and again more recently when the shaped inner edgings to the backgammon boards were replaced. The lock and hinges replacements.
Dimensions
  • Height: 13cm (closed)
  • Width: 56.3cm (closed)
  • Depth: 34cm (closed)
  • Height: 6.5cm (open)
  • Width: 56.3cm (open)
  • Depth: 68cm (open)
Object history
Bought for £15. 8s. 5d from M. Fulgence, 75 Rue la Boëtie, Paris (82314/1900), and attributed to Venice.



"Board for backgammon, chess, merelles or Nine Men's Morris, and Fox and Geese (?): of oak with marquetry in ivory, silver and coloured woods. It has a spring fastening with silver plates. The board is fitted with two slides arranged for games, and there are thirty draughtsmen, fifteen of ivory and fifteen of ebony with ivory centres, two leather dice-boxes, and two dice, two markers and one flag all of ivory. It consists of two hinged parts, which when open form a chess-board outside, the light checkers being enriched with mosaic ornament; at either en are bands and lozenges and round the whole a raised border decorated with squares of mosaic. The inside is arranged for backgammon, the 'points', alternately of ivory and mosaic, being separated by rectangular compartments decorated with geometrical forms and floral sprays; along the raised rim are holes for markers, six arranged singly and twenty-four in pairs, separated by squares of mosaic. One slide is arranged for chess on one face and for fox and geese on the other, and the other slide similarly for fox and geese and for merelles; each face of the two slides has a rectangular panel of maosaic at each end. Italian (Venetian); 16th century. Much damaged; portions broken, missing and repaired."

For a comparable board see Wilfried vond Seipel, Spielwelten der Kunst; Kunstkammerspiele: Kunsthistorische Museum Wien (Milan 1998), cat. 24



Another similar pair of boards, without loose boards, (unrestored) with a London dealer (2007).



Attributions for intarsia decorated boards have varied between southern Spain and Venice, and similar techniques were used in both areas, and derive in both instances from the Islamic world. The survival in Vienna of a rare early 14th century games board with geometrical inlay, that belonged to Ferdinand II of Tyrol (see Wilfried vond Seipel, Spielwelten der Kunst; Kunstkammerspiele: Kunsthistorische Museum Wien (Milan 1998), cat. 76), and attributed to Venice, suggests that this type of decorated gamesboard may have been a NE Italian luxury product (at least from the 14th century) which was copied during the 16th century in southern Spain, where similar techniques of micro inlay were practised.
Production
Andalusia or Granada
Bibliographic References
  • M. Rosser-Owen. Islamic Arts from Spain (London: V&A Publishing, 2010) p. 88-89 Fig. 81 'Gamesboard, 1525-75. Probably Granada. Oak board with inlay of ivory, ebony and coloured woods, 26.5 x 22 cm.(open). (V&A: 154-1900)' P.88 'Taracea was appropiate for decorating gamesboards, where inlaid squares on a chessboard, for example, alternated with solid blocks of ebony to represent 'white' and 'black'. A particularly elaborate example in the V&A is a pair of hinged boards that form a box (pl. 81): when opened, the outer faces become a chessboard and the inner a backgammon game, as is quite common with folding boards. In addition, two extra boards whcich slide into notxhes on the box's outer border have a different game on each side -chess, nine men's morris, and two different versions of fox and geese, all games popular in fifteenth- and sixteenth- century Europe [Note 31: On which see Murray, H.J.R., A History of Board-Games other than Chess (Oxford, 1952), pp. 101-5 (his fig. 40 is based on this very board in the V&A, which he describes as a 'compendium of games').]. The ivory and ebony counters, chessmen and dice would have been stored inside the box when it was closed.'
  • H.J.R. Murray, The history of board games other than chess (Oxford, 1952), p.104. Notes that it contains a board suitable for the Italian game Lupo e pecore ('wolf and sheep'), or the Spanish Asalto
Collection
Accession Number
154-1900

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record createdApril 23, 2007
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