Gameboard

Chessboard

Probably Polish (Danzig)
late 17th or early 18th century


Object Place: Europe, Danzig, Germany

Dimensions

37 x 37 cm (14 9/16 x 14 9/16 x 1.6 in.)

Accession Number

02.205a

Medium or Technique

Amber, gold foils, wood

On View

Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Recreational

Alternate squares of opaque and transparent amber, the transparent squares over gold foils engraved with scenes and phrases in French. On a wood frame, fitted with a small round, carved amber foot at each corner. Accompanied by 32 amber chess pieces (02.205b - gg).


This is not your everyday checker board. Working in precious amber, the maker exploited the material’s natural properties to differentiate opposing sides: opaque vs. translucent. Such sets were popular among Europe’s nobility and were often presented as diplomatic gifts by the dukes of Prussia. England’s King Charles I brought his amber game board and pieces to his execution in 1649.

Provenance

1902, bequest of William Arnold Buffum to the MFA.

Credit Line

Bequest of William Arnold Buffum