Leather Casket with Scenes of Courtly Love

Leather Casket with Scenes of Courtly Love

c. 1350-1400

Leather: embossed, incised; iron mounts; wood core

Overall: 10.5 x 25.2 x 19 cm (4 1/8 x 9 15/16 x 7 1/2 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1999.211


During the Middle Ages, small boxes like this were produced for the secular market. Used for storing personal items, the boxes typically consisted of a wood core that might be decoratively painted and gilded or covered with another material, such as ivory or leather. Manufactured in small, highly specialized leather workshops, these richly embellished caskets were valued furnishings in the homes of the aristocratic clientele that commissioned them. On the lid of this box, a couple is shown with banderoles inscribed in Old French with expressions of mutual love. "Hold my heart," requests the lady. "But you already have it," replies the man. On the front of the casket, the man, holding a heart, appears again and states, "Have it once more."

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