Florence, sixteenth century
Carved walnut wood
Size: cm 48 X 33 X 26
This elegant carved wood jewel case was finely inlaid by a very skilled Florentine craftsman in the sixteenth century. In accordance to the Renaissance architectural standards, it’s meant to recall the tripartite facades Medici buildings show still today.
Several items of furniture, just like marriage chests for instance, were adorned at that time with the owners’ coats of arms at their main or side panels. People used then to gift just married couples with jewel cases often filled up with some valuables as an omen of good fortune.
Focusing on the frontal panel of the case we’re analysing, the lock is cleverly kept hidden by the cartouche located between two smaller coats of arms. Since they don’t bear anything referring to the main Florentine families at that time, we can suppose the case was realized for someone from the middle class. We may therefore assume the artist was asked to get around such an issue by carving the case in the finest possible way. He might have been then requested to make it look an item meant for a noble customer.
Each side panel is skilfully inlaid with floral items surrounded by a cartouche, whose main coil shaped elements reach the lid. Focusing on it, we can appreciate its central pyramidal part is adorned with some horizontal grooves and floral elements to the edges. As the hard-to-find sliding hatching of the case, the lid is then meant to keep the owner’s precious items safe.
Since strongboxes would be created much later, rich people used such tiny pieces of furniture to get their valuables away from prying eyes.
Four Renaissance style looking feet support the curved skirt, whose coil carved items recall Florentine sixteenth century furniture production.