The attribution of the present rock crystal casket to a Venetian workshop active circa 1600 is based on both traditional provenances and documentary sources from the period. Following the sale in these Rooms in 1992 of a related casket (8 December, lot 15, sold for £165,000), the number known to exist rose to eleven, each one being of a slightly different construction and size. The earliest firm reference to one of these caskets is of an example in the treasury of the Basilica di Santa Barbara in Mantua, where it is recorded in an inventory of 31 October, 1610 (Splendour of the Gonzaga, loc. cit.). Other sources, however, do suggest that several examples existed at the time. In a painting of Titian's daughter, painted by a follower of the artist, the young woman is depicted looking at the viewer over her shoulder and holding up a casket which displays the same general construction and use of rock crystal that is evident in the present object (Huth, 1968, op. cit., p. 43). Similarly, in Francesco Sansovino's Venezia Cittá Nobilissima of 1581, the author describes a visit to a jeweller's shop where he saw 'a large casket of rock crystal made in such a way that the contents could be seen through the crystal windows' (Lacquer of the West, op. cit., p.8).
Traditionally, the caskets are said to have been commissioned to house linen blessed by the Pope and given by him to leading European Catholic families on the birth of a male heir, a practice intended to strengthen the ties of influential families to the Pontiff. Although it cannot be proven that this casket was also commissioned by the Pope, it nevertheless gives an idea of the opulence of Venetian society around the year 1600.