Wooden casket

South Germany(?), end 15th century
Beech, painted
length 13.5 cm, width 7.5 cm, height 4cm
Inv. 1885.99.

4822px x 3890px
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Small caskets that have come down from the C T5 are usually carved. The motifs suggest that they were used as bridal gifts and since the C19, with its idealised view of the Middle Ages, they have been called 'Minnekästchen' (courtly love caskets). Painted caskets and boxes from the C15 are rare, but in South Germany and Switzerland examples from the C16 and C17 are numerous and they lived on in the popular and souvenir art of the C18 and C19. A special group had paintings in tempera on a smooth, polished bismuth ground. This metal was mixed to a paste with a binding agent, applied over a chalk ground and usually lacquered in 'golden yellow to protect it from oxidisation. Here bismuth is used in the foliage decoration in the background of the motif.

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