Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Exotic wood and carved ivory with silver fittings
Bibliographie: Choices, Lisboa, AR-PAB, 2016, pp. 222-231 (cat. 20)
This rectangular cassetta da sposa or needlework box has an exotic wooden structure veneered with delicately carved thin sheets of ivory. It is modelled after 16th-century European prototypes such as Italian pastiglia boxes of which examples of matching shape and size survive, such as one box (9.1 x 23.4 x 12.9 cm) from the Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no. 777-1881. Pastiglia boxes were made in Venice and Ferrara from about 1480 until 1550 and are so called since musk paste or pasta di musco was used in their moulded decoration, and released scent with their use and handling. Moreover, this Ceylonese cassetta matches perfectly in proportion a type of beechwood box produced in South Germany, namely a group of pieceswhich have survived on account of their precious and unusual painted decoration on bismuth ground. One fine example from the Victoria and Albert Museum (13.6 x 37.4 x 23.8 cm), is dated 1559 on the top and features a scene with David and Bathsheba, thereby adding to the nuptial and feminine character of the box. The presence of the ball feet on our example informs us of the likely original function of this small, feminine piece of furniture: it is a working box intended to be placed on a dais and used to store the sewing equipment and accessories of a noble lady; objects and materials used for needlework and embroidery such as valuable silk yarn balls and gold and silver thread. The quality of the carving is similar to the best examples of such objects produced in Ceylon for the Portuguese market (approximately until 1658), and more precisely to the veneered boxes and cabinets covered with thin pierced, openwork ivory carved plaques.
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1 000 €