Bride's casket, attributed to the Embriachi workshop

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Venice, Italy
Late 14th, early 15th century
Horn, wood, bone, intarsia, traces of original polychromy and gilding, silk
31 cm
44 cm
24 cm

E. Berger, Prunk-Kassetten: Europäischen Meisterwerke aus acht Jahrhunderten, Hanns Schell Collection, Stuttgart/Graz 1998, pp. 89 -101.
P. Lorenzelli & A. Veca, Tra/e: Teche, pissidi, cofani e forzieri dall’Alto Medioevo al Barocco, Gallereria Lorenzelli, Bergamo 1984, pp. 266 - 270.
M. Pall, Versperrbare Kostbarkeiten, Kästchen und Kabinette aus der Welt, Hanns Schell Collection, Graz 2006, p. 39.
M. Tomasi, La Bottega degli Embriachi, Florence, 2001, pp. 36-40, cat. no. 7.


See for similar Embriachi caskets:
- Collection Victoria & Albert Museum, inv. no. A.27-1952
- Collection British Museum, inv. no. 1878,1101.20
- Collection Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin, inv. no. 113

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This refined wedding casket is richly carved with various scenes, animals, putti and floral motifs, and inlaid with artistic geometric patterns. The casket was made in Northern Italy and attributed to the Embriachi workshop. The main frieze is carved with love pairs. On the carved figures there are traces of gilding and original polychromy. Wedding caskets like this one were exchanged in northern and central Italy in the late 14th and early 15th centuries at the weddings of noblemen. The casket was given to the bride at the end of the negotiations between the two families on dowry and conditions to hold her wedding jewels, letters from her lover and other precious tokens related to the marriage. These valuable caskets were often decorated with mythological tales and virtuous marriage scenes. On the sides of this casket are two coats of arms, probably of the bride's family and of the groom. The inside of the casket is lined with red velvet.

The northern Italian Embriachi family is known for producing some of the largest and most impressive carved triptychs and polyptychs of the late Gothic and early Renaissance, including the famous Retable de Poissy in the Musée du Louvre, c. 1400 (inv. no. MR 379), and for creating intricate wedding caskets such as this one, which, like the great polyptychs, uses multiple carved panels. This casket is a very special example because of its large size and quality.  

The exact location of the Embriachi workshop is unknown, although it is known that it originated in Florence and that there was a workshop in Venice around 1431. Besides the high-quality carving, the Embriachi atelier also specialised in inlaying geometric patterns in (coloured) wood, bone, horn and tin. This is called intarsi technique, a term derived from the Arabic 'tarsi', which means 'incrustation'. The application of geometric patterns is also known in Italy as marquetry 'alla Certosina', named after the Certosina church in Pavia with a famous altarpiece decorated with this technique. In the application of this technique, the influence of the Islamic world on luxury objects in 16th century Italy can be seen. The trade routes between Venice and cities on the eastern Mediterranean led to a mutual cultural exchange.  

See for similar Embriachi caskets: collection Victoria & Albert Museum, inv. no. A.27-1952collection British Museum, inv. no. 1878,1101.20 and collection Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin, inv. no. 113.


Cites nr: 4890022247231


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