The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Casket
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • c. 1715 - c. 1720
  • Oak, première-partie marquetry of turtleshell, brass and mother-of-pearl, horn (stained green), gilt bronze, pear wood, mahogany and green watered silk, steel key
  • Object size: 21.6 x 32 x 23.2 cm
  • F34
  • Small Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The 'chinoiserie' decoration of this piece is an example of the interest in the Orient and its luxury products that began during the reign of Louis XIV and continued throughout the eighteenth century. The simple shape may be influenced by the arch-lidded Japanese lacquer caskets of the seventeenth century (themselves partly based on European prototypes) and the marquetry decoration is a western attempt to imitate depictions on Oriental lacquer and porcelain. Perhaps rather incongruously the marquetry panel on the lid shows a chinoiserie fox-hunting scene by a pool, the water represented by mother-of-pearl. Other scenes on the casket also include mother-of-pearl representations of water but with more familiarly 'chinois' people and activities. It remains firmly a western object, however, and would not have been mistaken for anything imported from the Far East.
    The style of the marquetry has led to the suggestion that it was made in one of the South German centres of Boulle marquetry, but the similarity between this and the marquetry top of a French writing table in the Wallace Collection (F58) proves otherwise. The table, and thus the casket, are now tentatively attributed to Bernard I van Risemburgh (c. 1660-1738), a cabinet-maker of Netherlandish origin who settled in Paris some time before 1696 and became a master cabinet-maker in the city.