Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mechanical casket

Heinrich Gambs (Durlach–Baden 1765–1831 Saint Petersburg)
Russian (St. Petersburg)
Burr-maple, ebony and ebonized fruitwood, mahogany, birch, gold-colored silk and green baize
Overall: 7 1/4 x 16 x 9 1/2 in. (18.4 x 40.6 x 24.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Anonymous Gift, in memory of Walter E. Stait, 2008
Accession Number:
Not on view
The design of this rectangular casket, with its double stepped base, appears to belong to the Art Deco period rather than to the time of Napoleon. The beautiful burr maple–veneered exterior encloses various mechanical devices, buttons, and springs to open or release hidden compartments and give access to secret drawers. Heinrich Gambs served as a journeyman in the workshop of David Roentgen with whom he collaborated and traveled to Russia in 1790. Gambs opened a furniture workshop in Saint Petersburg, where he made mechanical pieces that resembled the work of his well-known teacher, attracting among his select clientele the future empress Maria Feodorovna.
Mother of Wolfram Koeppe
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