A Massive Iron Casket Inset with Brass Fretwork Panels, c. 1740


Item ref: 2415

  • Austria
  • Iron, brass, gold and paint
  • Height with closed lid without the key 61 cm / 24 in, Height with closed lid with the key in the lock 70 cm / 27.5 in, Height with lid up 117 cm / 46 in, Width 90 cm / 35.5 in, Inset deep 58 cm / 22 ¾ in


Private collection, USA

Call it massive or gargantuan, this casket makes a statement of profound solidity and is easily pictured in the mind’s eye within its original setting in a nobleman’s castle or rococo palais. The pairs of deers’ fetlocks which form its feet immediately recall the very similar embellishments popular of the hilts of hunting swords during the mid-18th century, while the fretwork panels recall fashion in both Austrian and Italian luxury furniture of the same period. The magnificent decorated plate of burnished steel which encloses the lock mechanism (itself a consummate work of hand-crafted engineering) is perhaps evolved from a much earlier early medieval design; broadly related scroll-work arrangements in the medieval taste, and involving a symbolic palm supported by exotic birds or mythical beasts exist as carved ivory plaques as early as the 12th century.