The design of this impressive casket, richly mounted with hardstone fruit, ormolu foliage and naturalistic pietra dura panels, closely relates it to the output of the Galleria dei Lavori, or Grand Ducal Workshops, in Florence under its director, the scultore Giovan Battista Foggini (1652-1725), during the reign of Grand Duke Cosimo III (1670-1723). The workshops were originally established by Ferdinando I de Medici in 1588, and were intended to glorify the artistry of Florence by the creation of exquisite works of art in rare and precious materials. This was later to be imitated by Louis XIV when he set up the Gobelins workshops in Paris, where an Italian, Domenico Cucci, was one of the leading cabinet-makers.
Closely related caskets, which were often given as diplomatic gifts to foreign dignitaries, are illustrated in A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto: La Toscana e L'Italia Settentrionale, Milan, 1986, vol. II, pp. 60-1, figs. 72-7. The specialist nature of the craftsmen in these workshops is indicated by the fact that Foggini created the position of a fruttista, whose responsibility was the manufacture of the distinctive polished fruit seen on this casket. A related casket, once in the collection of King George V of England, was sold in these Rooms, 21 May 1996, lot 273.