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    Sale 7715

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    31 March 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 213

    AN INDO-PORTUGUESE MOTHER-OF-PEARL OVERLAID BRASS MOUNTED AND INSET WOODEN CASKET

    GUJARAT, PROBABLY FIRST HALF 16TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    AN INDO-PORTUGUESE MOTHER-OF-PEARL OVERLAID BRASS MOUNTED AND INSET WOODEN CASKET
    GUJARAT, PROBABLY FIRST HALF 16TH CENTURY
    Of rectangular form with hinged coffered lid, on four short corner feet, the surface completely covered with mother-of-pearl panels in fish-scale designs, those on the upper panel of the lid of cusped fish-scale design, each retained with a brass pin, the edges wtih applied brass strips each inset with coloured gemstones, simple hinges, clasp, and chains at each side, the interior painted plain red, very slight old damages and repairs
    13 1/8 x 9 5/8 x 8in. (34 x 23.5 x 20cm.)


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    The form of this casket is well-known from other examples, both those completely covered in mother-of-pearl and those with designs of mother-of-pearl inlaid into black lac (Amin Jaffer, Luxury Goods of India, London, 2002, pp.22-24). Jaffer suggests that the centres which worked in these two different techniques were closely related, and could very possibly have been the same workshops. The forms of different objects are very similar, and occasionally, as on a mace in the Victoria and Albert Museum, are combined (Jaffer, op.cit., p.36).

    Jaffer illustrates a very similar casket formerly belonging to the Earl of Chesterfield and now in a private collection which was given very elaborate silver-gilt mounts made by Pierre Mangot in 1532-3. In 1529 M. de Laborde notes that the king of France bought "un chalit marqueté à feuillages de nacle de perle, faict au pays d'Aindie" which had come from Portugal (noted in Exotica, exhibition catalogue, Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, 2001, p.111). Further confirmation of a sixteenth century date is given by an example in the Grünes Gewölbe in Dresdon whose mounts, which may well have been later than the casket itself, were made by Elias Baldauf in Saxony in 1602.

    The mounts on the present example are very similar to those on a somewhat damaged casket with flat top in the church treasury in Monsaraz in Portugal. Both have bands of copper or copper alloy along all the leading edges onto which are applied circular housings for semi-precious stones or glass. The example in Portugal appears to show traces of gilding which are not present here, but apart from that the techniques seem very similar and the feet identical. It is interesting to note that the far more elaborate mounts made by Pierre Mangot on a similar chest have a very similar arrangement of bands of inset stones oncorporated intot he design, which could very well be inspired by those of the type found here and in Monsaraz.

    There is one other archival entry which is tantalisingly close in description to the present casket. In the Inventory of King Henry VIII of England, dating from his death in 1547, entry no.11098 reads: "Item A Coffer of Mother of Perle garnished with guilte and Counterphaite stone".

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