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Mirror case (valve de miroir) (Front)

Mirror case (valve de miroir) (Front)
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Secular. Courtly love.

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Baltimore, Walters Art Museum

Inv. 71.107


Height: 82mm (diameter)
Depth: 9mm

Courting couple (meeting of lovers); offering of a flower; crosshatched background; man wearing a houppelande with long dagged-edged sleeves and a big cloth cap or chaperon; lady wearing pendant sleeves, and an elaborate horned headdress (with bourrelet).
Carved inscription: 'prenes'.
Crosshatched background.

Randall 1985: Italy, N. (Milan?), c. 1410.
Van Os 1996: North Italian (Milan?), c. 1410.
Gaborit-Chopin 2003 and Museum's opinion 2010: Italy, N. (Milan?), beginning of the 15th century.


Object Condition
Missing: corner terminals (drawn in the 18th-century catalogue of the collection of Pietro di Giacomo Gradenigo, Venice; surviving on the Louvre pendant mirror back).
Two holes for attachment.

The carved inscription 'prenes' is the first word of a motto continued on the pendant mirror back with the inscription 'en gre', now on loan to the Musée National du Moyen Age (Musée Cluny) from the Louvre (OA 115). These words mean 'Take kindly' and come from a poem by Christine de Pisan: 'Prenez en gre le don de votre amant' ('Take kindly the gift of your lover'). The attitudes correspond to those of the conventional Italian wedding portrayal of the 15th century.

Collection of Pietro di Giacomo Gradenigo, Venice, mid-18th century (see drawing by Jan Ivan Gravenbroeck in the catalogue of the aforementioned collection, at the Museo civico, Venice, cf. Ross, 1939). Collection of Jacques Seligmann. Bought by Henry Walters in 1914; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.

P. Molmenti, Storia di Venezia nella vita privata, I (Bergamo, 1922), p. 437.
M. C. Ross, 'A Gothic Ivory Mirror Case', in Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 2 (1939), pp. 109-111.
R. H. Randall, Masterpieces of Ivory from the Walters Art Gallery (New York, 1985), no. 348.
H. van Os, Een engel in de koffer: Willem Neutelings en zijn verzameling (Baarn, 1996), p. 30, fig. 38.
D. Gaborit-Chopin, Ivoires médiévaux, Ve-XVe siècle (Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2003), p. 569 (in relation to OA 115, no. 277).


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