Coffret: c. 1515; Woodcut: c. 1509
Wood, leather, iron, textile, woodcut with stenciled coloring
Overall: 28 x 18.5 x 10 cm (11 x 7 5/16 x 3 15/16 in.); Sheet with print: 29 x 19 cm (11 7/16 x 7 1/2 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2020.228
A secret compartment on the top lid of this coffer may have held a relic, consecrated host, or valuable document.
This remarkable object is thought to have functioned as a traveling case to keep small valuables and books, as well as a provisional altar. Made in France around 1515, the interior lid is affixed with a devotional woodcut made in Germany, imported, and colored for the purpose. Featuring an image of the veil of St. Veronica, the text at the bottom of the woodcut guides the user in prayer to the holy image of Christ’s face which has been miraculously imprinted on the veil, an action that held promise of indulgences (a reduction in one’s punishment for sins). Presumably, the owner carried the box on a journey, retrieved a prayer book from inside, and propped it open in order to practice daily prayers.
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