(Italian or German)
Inlaid woods, copper alloy mounts
6.63 x 7.75 x 7.75 in
16.83 x 19.69 x 19.69 cm
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Small geometric designs made of inlaid woods cover this ornate box. A copper mount protects each of the corners, and a copper latch allows the box to be locked. The symmetry and rhythmic patterning reflects the strong association between beauty and proportion in the Middle Ages. Based on the writings of Pythagoras, Vitruvius, and other ancient scholars, geometric proportion mirrored cosmic order. Through the application of symmetry, disposition, harmonious proportion, and beauty, the artist paid tribute to the mythical music of the spheres, created as the planets orbit the earth. The exact use of this box is unknown, but it likely served as a protective case for a reliquary, as indicated by the colored woodcut of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in the interior.