No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more THE WILBY HALL CASKET


The rectangular hinged top depicting the Judgement of Solomon and enclosing a pink silk-lined interior with marbled-paper lined hinged flap for till and drawer, the hinged sloping section with alternating panels of flora and fauna enclosing a further pink silk-lined interior with a mirror and a well with three marbled paper-lined compartments, above a pair of doors depicting Abraham banishing Hagar and Ishmael, the right side panel depicting Hagar and the Angel in the wilderness, the left side panel depicting Venus mourning the death of Adonis, the rear panel depicting Adonis and the boar hunt, the interior enclosing a panel depicting three panels of two bells each above a mirrored recess lined with eight giltwood half-columns, flanked by four small drawers above a long drawer, each decorated with flowers and lined in pink silk, the underside of each drawer covered in marbled paper, on giltwood gadrooned ball feet, the underside lined in marbled paper; with its probably original oak carrying-box with hinged lid and fall-front, the sides with carrying-handles, feet probably replaced
14½ in. (37 cm.) high; 11¾ in. (30 cm.) wide; 8¼ in. (21 cm.) deep
The oak box: 15¼ in. (39 cm.) high; 13½ in. (34.5 cm.) wide; 10 in. (25.5 cm.) deep (2)
Wilby Hall, near Eye, Suffolk.
Bought from Witney Antiques at the Grosvenor House Art & Antique Dealers' Fair, 2007.
Special notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

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Lot Essay

Embroidered caskets such as these would have been made by young ladies who learned the needlework from about the age of eight and by the age of fourteen would have been highly accomplished. The earliest known casket of this form is at The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, dated 1657 and was made by Hannah Smith, a girl aged 12. The form, with a hinged lid and sloping sides is often known as a 'double casket'. A casket of almost identical form and with very similar decoration is in The Burrell Collection, Glasgow (L. Arthur, Embroidery 1600-1700 at The Burrell Collection, London, 1995, frontispiece & fig. no. 79). The choice of Biblical subject matter was not only a reflection of the importance of the Bible in 17th century England, but also the choice of the subject itself showed the encouragement of womanly virtues, demonstrating the responsible and influential role of women in marriage. This casket includes both Biblical and mythological scenes, suggesting a date of the later 17th century, when mythological scenes gradually superseded Biblical subjects in popularity.
Compare also Martha Edlin's casket of 1671 in the Victoria & Albert Museum's collection, Museum no. T.432-1990, executed when she was 11 years old, which employs similar laid work embroidery to this example. Wilby Hall, Wilby, Suffolk was a moated house of 1579 (J. Kenworthy-Browne et al, Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses: volume III East Anglia, London, 1981, p. 269).

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