Probably Polish (Danzig)
late 17th or early 18th century
Object Place: Europe, Danzig, Germany
37 x 37 cm (14 9/16 x 14 9/16 x 1.6 in.)
Medium or Technique
Amber, gold foils, wood
Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)
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.
1902, bequest of William Arnold Buffum to the MFA.
Bequest of William Arnold Buffum