Covered Box or Casket

c. 1650
Satin, seed pearls, silk thread, metallic thread, canvas work, stump work
Overall: 4 1/2 x 16 x 11 1/2 in. (11.43 x 40.64 x 29.21 cm.)
Decorative Arts and Design
Not On View
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Addison L. Gardner, Jr. in memory of Richard W. and Anna L. Sears and of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg in memory of Mr. and Mrs. I. G. Bromberg by exchange
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

General Description

Caskets, or covered boxes, were popular objects used by women in the 17th century for storing their jewels, sewing implements, and other small treasures. This casket features elaborate raised work, purl, and metallic ribbon work. Pictured on the lid is the Queen of Sheba under a canopy surrounded by a group of people, animals, and flying birds and insects. To the left of the queen a man carries a large log. This scene depicts the legend of the tree that grew on the grave of Adam and that was cut to be used for Solomon's temple. Found to be unsuitable for a pillar, it was placed over a stream as a bridge. The queen recognized its miraculous quality and warned Solomon that this log would be used to fashion a cross that would destroy the people of Israel. Many years later, the log became the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. The front panel shows Mary spinning a shroud for Jesus, who lies in front of her, having been taken from the cross. The sides of the box contain two representations of the sacrifice of Isaac, which are worked in silk petit point. The entire box is outlined in metallic braid. The box contains a mirror in its lid and various compartments in its base, two of which hold bottles. The finished needlework was probably sent to a joiner who made the casket to fit the textile and then mounted the stitchery and the metallic braid onto the box. Charles Venable, Curator of Decorative Arts