Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Double Key

15th–16th century
Overall (closed): 1 3/16 x 3 3/8 x 13/16 in. (3 x 8.5 x 2.1 cm) Overall (fully extended): 5 1/4 x 1 3/16 x 13/16 in. (13.3 x 3 x 2.1 cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1955
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 307
The decoration of Gothic iron locks and keys was often elaborate and of the highest standard of workmanship. The motifs were frequently drawn from Gothic architecture, reproducing on a miniature scale complicated tracery patterns and even tiny statuettes. A number of these tiny locks were compound, with some of the mechanisms concealed from view, and required two or even three keys used in sequence to open them. It has been suggested that the greatly expanded use of locks on doors, or coffrets and other types of storage chests was a result of the increasing urbanization of life and the new emphasis on material wealth and private ownership which developed in the late Middle Ages.
Inscription: Inscribed: (on one end) ab dare [?] medi [?] et
Samuel Yellin, Philadelphia (until 1940) ; Samuel Yellin, Philadelphia (1940–sold 1955)
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. "The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages," March 28, 1975–June 15, 1975.

Hoffeld, Jeffrey M. "The Art of the Medieval Blacksmith." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 28. no. 4 (December 1969). p. 169.

Husband, Timothy B., and Jane Hayward, ed. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. no. 13, p. 28.

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