Large casket, Embriachi school
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- Venice, Italy
- C. 1475-1500
- Softwood base, Glued with wood and bone (some colored green), Bone (partially green colored), Pewter
- 15.5 cm
- 41.5 cm
- 30.5 cm
Martina Pall, Versperrbare Kostbarkeiten, Kästchen und Kabinette aus der Welt, Hanns Schell Collection, Graz 2006, p. 38.
Ewald Berger, Prunk-Kassetten: Europäischen Meisterwerke aus acht Jahrhunderten / Ornamental Caskets: Eight Centuries of European Craftsmanship, Hanns Schell Collection, Stuttgart/Graz 1998, pp. 89-101.
Pietro Lorenzelli e Alberto Veca, Tra/e: Teche, pissidi, cofani e forzieri dall’Alto Medioevo al Barocco, Gallereria Lorenzelli, Bergamo 1984, p. 262, 263, p. 260.
Francesca Gualandi, Luca Mor e Giuliano Gaggioli, Capsellae. Cassette-reliquario e cofanetti della collezione Fornaro Gaggioli. Secoli XIII-XVI, Bologna 2006, pp. 18-22.
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This large casket is richly decorated with the characteristic geometric patterns of Embriachi. One sees a checker board pattern and a strip in the shape of half diamonds. The lid and base are framed by a broad band of horn. These patterns are created by juxtaposing lighter and darker pieces of wood, (colored) bone, pewter and black ebony. This is ‘intarsia technique’, a term derived from the Arabic 'tarsi', which means 'incrustation'.
The application of geometric motifs is known in Italy as marquetry 'alla certosina' after the Certosina church in Pavia with its famous altarpiece decorated in this way. 'Alla certosina' became famous through the Embriachi family who achieved a particularly high standard working in this technique.
Both materials and design of this casket show the influence of the Islamic world upon luxury objects in 16th century Italy. The trade routes between states like Venice and the cities of the eastern Mediterranean resulted in a two-way cultural exchange.
This casket was intended to keep important documents, money or jewelry safe.
Two similar caskets are mentioned in Lorenzelli e Veca, Bergamo 1984, page 265 and Gualandi, Mor & Gaggioli, Bologna 2006, figure 7 page 18, figure 8 page 20, figure 9, page 22.