Casket

ca. 1440-1470 (made)
Casket thumbnail 1
Casket thumbnail 2
+7
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This bone casket was made in about 1440-1470 in the South Netherlands. The top is inlaid with ivory and bone in checkered pattern with an inlaid border of wood and green stanied ivory. The sides are carved with hunting scenes.
The presence of the checkerboard on the lid rather than the underside and the intarsia strips at either end speak strongly in support of the casket's function as a gaming box, containing small chess pieces or counters.
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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Bone, wood, brass, intarsia, pigment and gilding
Brief Description
Casket, bone and wood, with hunting scenes, South Netherlands, about 1440-1470
Physical Description
Bone casket with a wooden carcase, onto which are glued strips of bone and pieces of horn and intarsia. The lid, unusually, takes the form of an 8 x 8 checkerboard formed from bone and horn squares; chevron decoration of intarsia appears at either end. The sides of the casket are decorated with bone panels carved with hunting scenes. On the front, to the left of the lock plate, a beater is at work among bare trees; to the right, a hunter runs off with boar spear lowered. The back and left side both show dogs running ahead of standing huntsmen and the right side has a dog pursuing a stag. The backgrounds are all hatched, and the figures and ground lines are decorated with pigment and gilding. Metal mounts.



Dimensions
  • Height: 5.9cm
  • At front width: 13.3cm
  • Of sides depth: 15.8cm
Object history
In the collection of Camille Lelong, Paris, until 1902 (Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, 8-10 December 1902, lot 183); in the possession of Dr W.L. Hildburgh, London, by 1924, who placed it on loan to the Museum that year; given by Dr. Hildburgh in 1949.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This bone casket was made in about 1440-1470 in the South Netherlands. The top is inlaid with ivory and bone in checkered pattern with an inlaid border of wood and green stanied ivory. The sides are carved with hunting scenes.

The presence of the checkerboard on the lid rather than the underside and the intarsia strips at either end speak strongly in support of the casket's function as a gaming box, containing small chess pieces or counters.

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.
Bibliographic References
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, Londonpart II, 684-685
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part II, 684-685, cat. no. 235
Collection
Accession Number
A.9-1949

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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