Silver, partially gilt, malachite, lapis lazuli, enamel
Overall: 19.1 x 40.7 x 22.9 cm (7 1/2 x 16 x 9 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1974.86
The Latin inscription on this marriage casket, "amor gignit amorem," means "love begets love," an appropriate prediction for an impending union.
The giving of coins or other valuable items was a powerful symbol of engagement and marriage in Europe in the 1600s and 1700s. Often these valuables were presented and kept in elaborate caskets that remained the property of the wife throughout the marriage, to be drawn upon in time of need, or as a symbol of their wealth and prosperity. This silver and hardstone casket was the gift of Pier Gregorio Boncompagni Ludovisi upon his marriage to Francesca Ottoboni in 1731. Their marriage represented the merger of two very powerful Italian noble families—the Boncompagni Ludovisi from Bologna and the Ottoboni from Venice. Both families had settled in Rome in the 17th century, and each were closely aligned with the papacy, having produced numerous cardinals and popes. Appropriately adorned with scenes from the myth of Cupid and Psyche, in which the two lovers work to overcome obstacles to their marriage, the casket is a masterwork of Roman silversmithing in the Baroque taste prevalent at that time throughout Europe.
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