Early 15th century

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The four faces of this rectangular chest are decorated with gilded stucco bas-reliefs and tempera paint, much of which has been lost. On the front two elegantly dressed figures, on the left a half-seated man and on the right a lady, can be seen; in the middle is a bird similar to a peacock. On both lateral, narrower faces, an eagle that takes a phylactery with its talons. On the back side a dog chases a hare. All figures are set against a rich background of stylized plant motifs. The corner reinforcements of the edges are made of embossed brass with a cord-shaped motif. The slanted side boards form the four legs. The lid, possibly bulging, is lost; only part of the rectangular hinge remains. The interior is lined with black cotton twill. It is an amatory chest, that is, an object used in the context of courtship, often as a gift from the groom to the bride. Boxes of this type were very common throughout Europe during the Late Middle Ages and are usually decorated, as in this case, with courtly scenes such as courting couples, exotic or heraldic animals or environmental indications, especially referring to the garden (exotic birds, a fountain), the courtship stage par excellence. This specific type of chest was made in Barcelona workshops active in the first quarter of the 15th century; around fifty similar examples of this kind are known throughout the world. One of them, very similar to our object but having preserved the cover, became the reliquary of the Holy Sandal of the Virgin, which was venerated in Bellpuig de les Avellanes. Today it is preserved in the Museu de Lleida, along with two other chests of the same type. It is a good example of how objects of this sort, due to their luxurious condition, could exit the profane sphere for which they had been conceived to acquire a religious, devotional or liturgical function.

Marc Sureda Jubany

Llegir més


Room22 ,Floor2

18 Leather

19 Gold, Silver and Metalworking Arts

20 Forge Work

21 Ceramics

22 Study Galleries

Detalls de l’obra




Early 15th century


Wood, punched stucco pastillage, gilded and polychromed


17.5 x 27.5 x 18.3cm


Provenance unknown


MEV 4158