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Casket with openwork panels (plaques ajourées; coffret); known as the ‘Flaxley Casket’ (Interior)

Casket with openwork panels (plaques ajourées; coffret); known as the ‘Flaxley Casket’ (Interior)
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End, right


Body, back

Body, front

End, left

Detail, front

Detail, front

Detail, front

Detail, front

End, right

Body, front

Secular. Romance. Courtly love.

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Wraxall, Tyntesfield (property of the National Trust)


Fabric (later);metal (later fittings);ivory;wood (core)

Height: 133mm
Width: 203mm
Depth: 140mm

Story of the Swan Knight (Chevalier au Cygne).
Register 1: King Oriant with Queen Beatrix and Matabrune. The King and Queen in bed. The King notices the Queen is pregnant. Matabrune takes away all seven babies while the Queen is asleep.
Register 2: Matabrune gives the babies to Markes to have them put to death. Matabrune throws into a well a bitch who gave birth to seven puppies. She brings the puppies to the King and introduces them to him as his newborn babies. Instead of killing the babies, Markes abandons them in a forest.
Register 3: The Queen is thrown into prison. A hermit finds the babies. The servant Malquarrés discovers the children, while a doe feeds them. Malquarrés tells Matabrune that the children are alive.
Body, front
Register 1: Malquarrés removes the silver chains from around the children's necks. The children turn into swans. Matabrune congratulates Malquarrés. Matabrune asks the King to have the Queen burnt.
Register 2: The Queen kneeling with a soldier behind her. The King enthroned; Matabrune; soldier. An angel appears to the hermit and Elyas, the only child who escaped from Malquarrés. The hermit and child go to see the King.
End, left
Register 1: the Queen and Matabrune present to the King, Elyas and Malquarrés as their champions. Elyas and Malquarrés fighting.
Register 2: Elyas kills Malquarrés (beheading of Malquarrés). Matabrune flees.
Body, back
Register 1: Elyas brings the head of Malquarrés to the King. Reconciliation of the King and Queen. The King embracing Elyas. Elyas kneeling before the King.
Register 2: the army marches against Matabrune; soldiers. Siege of the castle. Capture of Matabrune.
End, right
Register 1: Elyas tells the whole story to his mother, the Queen. Matabrune is burnt alive.
Register 2: the King and Queen watch Elyas leave on a ship drawn by a swan.

Koechlin Number: 1310bis

Gibbs 1868: 14th century.
Koechlin 1924: France, late 14th century.
Egbert 1929: North Italy, mid 15th century.


Carved on all sides.

In the 18th century: collection of the Crawley-Boeveys family, Baronets, of Flaxley Abbey, co. Gloucester (mentioned in 1793 in a letter from the antiquary Dallaway to Sir Thomas Crawley, published by Gibbs, p. ix). Collection of William Gibbs, Tyntesfield, co. Somerset (in 1868); collection of Colonel George Gibbs (in 1923); remained at Tyntesfield, which now belongs to the National Trust.

The Romance of the Chevelere Assigne, ed. by H. H. Gibbs (London: Early English Texts Society, Extra Series, no. 6, 1868), pp. vii-ix.
Catalogue of an Exhibition of Carvings in Ivory, exhibition catalogue, London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1923, no. 141, pl. XXXIX.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, pp. 516, 522; II, no. 1310bis; III, pl. CCXXVII.
D. D. Egbert, 'North Italian Gothic Ivories in the Museo Cristiano of the Vatican Library', in Art Studies, 7 (1929), pp. 168-207 (p. 202, fig. 64).


Tyntesfield volunteer photographic team © National Trust.

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