Master Sculpture & Works of Art Part II

Master Sculpture & Works of Art Part II

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 509. Games Box with Court Scenes.

Southern Netherlandish, circa 1440-1470

Games Box with Court Scenes

Lot Closed

January 28, 07:08 PM GMT


5,000 - 8,000 USD

Lot Details


Southern Netherlandish, circa 1440-1470

Games Box with Court Scenes

parcel-gilt and polychrome bone and wood, with metal mounts

2 ¾ by 5 ⅞ by 7⅛ in.; 7 by 14.7 by 18.2cm.

Sotheby's London, 5 December 2017, lot 35

This charming games box is a fine example of a distinct group of small bone caskets displaying secular motifs in low relief against hatched backgrounds and intarsia checkerboards on the underside. Today's scholarly consensus argues that these caskets were produced by workshops in the southern Netherlands. Their preferred motifs – scenes of courtship and the hunt – indicate a possible function in marriage negotiations. While it is traditionally thought that these caskets were in fact used to store gaming pieces, this use has been called into question, and the checkerboard should perhaps be seen as symbolic in most cases. Depicting musicians, courting couples, a hunt, and animals, the present casket compares both iconographically and stylistically to several examples held in public collections, including two caskets in the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. nos. 4660-1859 and 6747-1860) and one at the musée du Louvre (inv. no. MRR 80). For the motif of a tree in a basket on the lid, see a casket in the Metropolitan Museum (inv. no. 54.135).


D. Gaborit-Chopin (ed.), Ivoires médiévaux, Ve-XVe siècle, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2003, pp. 528-530;

P. Williamson and G. Davies, Medieval Ivory Carvings: 1200-1550, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, Part II, pp. 654-655, 677-685.