Cabinet with personifications of the Five Senses, third quarter of 17th century
Satin worked with silk and metal thread, purl, chenille, seed pearls, coral beads, and mica; tent knots, rococo, satin, couching, and detached buttonhole stitches, knots; woven metal thread trim; silk and paper lining; 5 3/4 x 7 1/2 x 9 in. (14.6 x 19.1 x 22.9 cm)
Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.1)
This small cabinet is fitted for writing instruments and has an unusual construction for an embroidered box—the fall-front door is on the shorter side. The interior is typical of seventeenth-century embroidered boxes—it is lined with bright salmon pink silk fabric and the drawers are edged with silver embossed paper.
The cabinet is decorated with raised-work elements depicting the Five Senses personified by fashionably dressed women accompanied by symbolic creatures. Sight, with her companion eagle, graces the front of the cabinet; Smell and her dog are on the right side; Taste and a monkey are on the left; Touch with a tortoise is on the back; and the lid of the cabinet shows Hearing playing a lute, with a stag at her feet. The figure of Hearing may also represent the attribute of Harmony, both in music and in marital relations, as she is placed between two manor houses and two heraldic animals, perhaps signifying a marital union. These designs were probably based on Continental print sources, such as those engraved by Adriaen Collaert (56.597.41).