Box

DATE:
17th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Iron
CLASSIFICATION:
Containers
DIMENSIONS:
Box: 3 3/4 × 4 3/4 × 3 3/8 in. (9.53 × 12.07 × 8.57 cm) Key: 2 5/8 × 3/4 × 1/4 in. (6.67 × 1.91 × 0.64 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Decorative Arts and Design
LOCATION:
Wendy and Emery Reves Collection - Villa La Pausa, Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
1985.R.815.A-B

General Description

Miniature strongboxes like this example were popular among Europe's wealthy. Because they were made of iron, yet were relatively lightweight and featured a carrying ring, they provided a safe repository for coins, documents, and jewels that could be taken on journeys. This example has the added security feature of being two-faced. One side has the true hasp, the other a false one. Prying hands had to determine which hasp actually covered the keyhole before the lock could successfully be breached.

The designs of heraldic single birds within borders of leafed scrolling vines are copied from engravings of the period. The desired ornament was "masked off" with varnish, and acid was applied to eat away the background. The south German city of Nuremberg was known for this type of etched decoration.

Adapted from

  • Dallas Museum of Art, Decorative Arts Highlights from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1995), 14.

  • Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1985), 178.

Web Resources

Victoria and Albert Museum
Read an article about Acid-etched Metal in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe.