The rectangular box rests on four detachable lobed feet. The box has broad cast moldings above and below with a string of beads around the top and bottom edges. The sides of the box are formed of square panels of intricate geometric ornament in low relif- four across the front of the box and three along the sides. The box has two covers assembled on one hinge; the interior cover may be concealed within the outer cover by a separate lock. The square panels on the hidden cover are of a different geometric design, incorporating an interlaced chain with an inscription and at the center initials in cipher. The panels, separated by plain moldings, are cast individually from a model that was pierced and assembled. They are meticulously finished.
This elaborate casket, a tour-de-force of goldsmithing techniques, was probably designed and commissioned by English collector and connoisseur William Beckford as a gift for his Portuguese companion, Gregorio Franchi. The two collaborated on the design of many original works of art, using a variety of historical sources. The exterior panels show the influence of Islamic geometric ornament, while the panels on the inner lid are based on interlaced knot motifs.
- English (London), 1820–21
- Marked by John Harris, English, active about 1818–1827
- H. 15 cm x W. 32.2 cm D. 25.3 cm (5 7/8 x 12 11/16 x 9 15/16 in.) Weight: 5,769.3 gm (185 oz 10 dwt)
- Medium or Technique
- Gilded silver
- Box; casket
- Accession Number
- On view
- Simone and Alan Hartman Galleries (European Decorative Arts) - 241