About this artwork
This small casket or strongbox with its handle and locking mechanism was well designed for the restless, mobile nature of French court life in the sixteenth century. The casket’s intimate scale was suitable for housing jewelry, devotional aids, and other precious objects that the owner wished to transport when following a prince from one palace or castle to another.
Here, the intricate interlace of bright gold wire is a counterpoint to the blackened steel that forms the body of the casket. These designs are executed in the labor-intensive technique called false damascening, whereby soft gold wire is burnished or rubbed into a crosshatched steel surface. This technique was practiced mostly by sword cutlers or furbishers, who diversified their usual bladed products with caskets like this that might appeal to ladies as well as gentleman of the court. The monogram of intertwined D’s over an H ornamenting the front and also under the base of the casket may reference Diane de Poitiers, the official mistress of King Henri II of France.
- Steel and gold
- 9 × 10.5 × 7 cm (3 1/2 × 4 1/8 × 2 3/4 in.)
- Purchased with funds provided by Constance and Donald Patterson through the Old Masters Society