Art/ Collection/ Art Object


14th century
Embossed leather, walnut, gilding, polychromy, copper alloy and iron fittings
Overall: 4 5/16 x 8 5/16 x 7in. (11 x 21.1 x 17.8cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 307
This casket, like many late medieval secular objects, is decorated with scenes of courtship or romances based on medieval concepts of courtly love. In this example, a lover offers his lady his heart while she combs his hair and gives him, in return, her girdle as a token of her affection.

The earliest cogent expression of courtly love is probably to be found in the twelfth-century troubadour songs of southern France. The code of courtly love, formalized in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, was observed, in some places, will into the fifteenth century. A popular author, Christine de Pisan (circa 1360-1430), expressed the sentiments of her day: "For it is well known there is no joy on earth that is so great as that of the lover and the beloved."

Typical in the Middle ages, the line between religious and secular subject matter is fine, for on the inside of the cover of this casket is a representation of the Virgin and Child.
Charles Léon Cardon, Brussels (until 1921); George and Florence Blumenthal, Paris and New York (until 1941)
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.

Katonah Museum of Art. "Love and Courtship in the Middle Ages," October 2, 2005–January 1, 2006.

Rubinstein-Bloch, Stella. Catalogue of the Collection of George and Florence Blumenthal, New York: Volume 3, Works of Art, Mediaeval and Renaissance. Paris: A. Lévy, 1926. pl. XXXI.

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. 5, p. 24.

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