Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Case, Cup

15th century
Italian or French
Cuir bouilli (tooled leather)
Overall: 6 3/8 x 5 11/16 x 4 7/8 in. (16.2 x 14.5 x 12.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1924
Accession Number:
24.135.4a, b
Not on view
Since travelers in the Middle Ages usually carried their own eating utensils, there were a number of leather cases molded to fit the shapes of cups, knives, forks, or spoons, which would protect the objects while they were being carried on a journey. As such objects were often made of costly materials, their value alone warranted the making of cases for them, often with rich decoration. Lavishly tooled and painted cases made for the imperial crown and ceremonial sword of the Holy Roman Empire have survived. However, others less ornately adorned and identifiable by their shapes as bases for a variety of eating utensils and drinking vessels are not uncommon. While the shape of this case is not explicit, it was probably intended for a wine cup or similar drinking vessel. The loops on the sides, through which a strap could be passed, indicate that the case was designed to be transported.
Demotte Inc., Paris and New York (until 1924)
Husband, Timothy B., and Jane Hayward, ed. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. New York: Dutton Publishing, 1975. no. 167, p. 148.

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