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Casket with Scenes from Romance

Date:
ca. 1310–1330
Geography:
Made in Paris, France
Culture:
French
Medium:
Ivory
Dimensions:
Overall: 4 5/16 x 9 15/16 x 6 1/4 in. (10.9 x 25.3 x 15.9 cm) Top: 5 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 5/16 in. (15 x 25.1 x 0.8 cm)
Classification:
Ivories
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.173a, b
  • Description

    This coffret illustrated with scenes from Arthurian and other courtly literature of the Middle Ages is one of the most imposing examples to survive. The lid represents the assault on the metaphorical fortress, Castle of Love, with a tournament and knights catapulting roses. The left end depicts Tristan and Isolde spied upon by King Mark, and a hunter killing a unicorn trapped by a virgin. The right end shows a knight rescuing a lady from the Wildman (Wodehouse), and Galahad receiving the key to the castle of maidens. At the back are Lancelot and the lion, Lancelot crossing the sword bridge, Gawain asleep on the magic bed, and the maidens welcoming their deliverer. The newly discovered front panel (1988.16), lost since before 1800, is a poignant depiction of the love tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe (two scenes at right) and Aristotle teaching Alexander the Great and Phyllis riding on the back of Aristotle (two scenes at left).

  • Provenance

    Sir Francis Douce (1754–1824); Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick (1783–1848); Frédéric Spitzer (d. 1890), Paris; Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cologne ; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)

  • See also
    What
    Where
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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