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Casket, with quatrefoils (coffret; quatre-feuilles) (Front)

Casket, with quatrefoils (coffret; quatre-feuilles) (Front)
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Secular. Courtly love. Romance.

Repository Institution

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New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art


Ivory; wood (modern core)

79mm x 216mm x 101mm

Romance of the Châtelaine de Vergi
Register 1: Courting couple (meeting of lovers); the Châtelaine secretly meets the knight; dog. Châtelaine discussing with the knight. The knight rejects the advances made by the Duchess of Burgundy; bed. The Duchess tells the Duke of Burgundy that the knight has offended her.
Register 2: the Châtelaine trains her dog to be her messenger; trees. The Châtelaine sends her dog to the knight; knight with a hawk on his wrist. The knight and the Châtelaine meet in her bedroom; the knight chucks the Châtelaine under the chin. The Duke of Burgundy threatens the knight, kneeling; sword.
Body, back
The knight, to exonerate himself, tells the Duke about his liaison with the Châtelaine and brings the duke of Burgundy through the forest. The duke observes the meeting of the two lovers, hidden behind a tree; the knight embraces the Châtelaine. The duke tells the duchess about their idyll; bed. The Châtelaine in her castle receives an invitation to the Carnival ball organised by the Duchess.
Body, front
The Châtelaine, seeing that her secret has been betrayed, dies of sorrow; bed; sword. The knight, discovering the dead body of the Châtelaine, commits suicide by piercing his chest with a sword. The Duke, discovering the two corpses, removes the sword from the body of the knight and goes in search of the Duchess.

Koechlin Number: 1302

Koechlin 1924: France, 1st half of 14th century.
Natanson 1951: France, c. 1320-1340.
Detroit 1997 and Museum's opinion 2012: France (Paris), c. 1320- 40.

Object Condition
Missing: both end panels (replaced with plain uncarved ivory panels).
Holes for missing fittings and lock.

Collection of Sir Francis Douce; collection of Samuel Rush Meyrick. Collection of Charles Mannheim. Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan (d. 1913), London and New York; estate of J. Pierpont Morgan (1913-1917); gift of J. Pierpont Morgan in 1917.

W. Maskell, Ivories Ancient and Mediaeval in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1872), p. 180, no. 22.
E. Molinier, Musée National du Louvre. Catalogue des ivoires (Paris, 1896), pp. 152-154.
E. Molinier, Collection Charles Mannheim (Paris, 1898), pp. 7-11, no. 15.
O. M. Dalton, Catalogue of the Ivory Carvings of the Christian Era in the British Museum (London, 1909), no. 367 (notes).
W. Bombe, 'Nouvelle der Kastellanin von Vergi in einer Freskenfolge des Palazzo Davizzi-Davanzati zu Florenz', in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 1917, II, pp. 1-25.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 509; II, no. 1302.
P. Ganz, L'oeuvre d'un amateur d'art : la collection de monsieur F. Engel-Gros (Geneva, 1925), II, pl. 135 b.
J. Natanson, Gothic Ivories of the 13th and 14th Centuries (London, 1951), p. 37, fig. 41.
H. M. von Erffa, 'Chastelaine von Vergi', in Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte (Stuttgart, 1954), III.
M. Locey, 'La chastelaine de Vergy', in The Register of the Museum of Art, the University of Kansas, IV, 2 (1970), pp. 1-23.
L. Gross, 'La Chastelaine de Vergi Carved in Ivory', in Viator 10 (1979), p. 312, n. 7.
R. H. Randall, The Golden Age of Ivory: Gothic Ivory Carvings in North American Collections (New York, 1993), p. 122.
M. T. Bruckner, 'Reconstructing Arthurian History: Lancelot and the Vulgate Cycle', in Memory in the Middle Ages, exhibition catalogue, Chestnut Hill, Mass., Boston College Museum of Art, 1995.
Images in Ivory. Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, ed. by P. Barnet, exhibition catalogue, Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and Baltimore, The Walters Art Gallery, 1997, no. 63.


Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photograph by Thomas Vinton, Medieval Art and The Cloisters.

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