Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Casket with Painted Roundels

Object Name:
late 12th–early 13th century
Attributed to Italy, Sicily
Ivory, painted; gilded silver mounts with glass, quartz, and turquoise inlays
Overall: H. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm) W. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm) D. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm)
Ivories and Bone
Credit Line:
Gift of Alastair Bradley Martin, 1973
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 457
The motifs featured on this casket—peacocks, gazelles, lions, small birds with branches in their beaks, and arabesque patterns—occur frequently in a variety of media in the south Mediterranean around this time. However, here the roundels enclosing these motifs are not interlaced as they usually are. Painted ivories such as this one are thought to have been mass-produced rather than made by special commission. The metal mounting with glass, quartz, and turquoise inserts was added at a later period.
Alastair Bradley Martin, Katonah, NY (by 1950–73; gifted to MMA)
Cott, Perry Blythe. "Siculo-Arabic Ivories." Princeton, 1939.

Kühnel, Ernst, and J. & S. Goldschmidt. Die Islamische Elfenbeinskulpturen VII–XIII Jahrhundert. no. 30. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 1971. ill. fig. 132 a-d, This is a related reference: it presents four panels of a Sicilian (?) carved ivory casket now in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg, dated ca 1200 (fig. 132 a-d), which show comparable treatment of animal forms, particularly the emphasized series of ribs an.

Brooke, C.N.L., and Ralph Pinder-Wilson. "The Reliquary of St. Petroc and the Ivories of Norman Sicily." Archaeologia 104 (1973). Related works: places Cott no. 20, 21 in Group II, but does not mention this box; dates Group II to end 12th and beginning 13th c.

Galan y Galindo, Angel. "Catalogo De Piezas." In Marfiles Medievales Del Islam. vol. 2. Cordoba: Publicaciones Obra Social Y Cultural Cajasur, 2005. p. 246, ill. fig. 13024.

Flood, Finbarr Barry, and Gulru Necipoglu. "Volume 1. From the Prophets to the Mongols." In A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture. vol. I. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2017. pp. 571–72, ill. fig. 22.4 (b/w).

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