woodcut in black, hand colored with brush, stencil and watercolor on laid paper, mounted on the inside cover of a coffer, constructed of wood and iron; cover with nine iron fittings, hinges, a lock and hidden compartment on the top of the cover; dark brown/black patina on exterior; unfinished wood at interior; woodcut is image of the Annunciation, with Mary at left wearing maroon dress and red cloak, looking at a book on a stand; angel at right wearing a blue gown and red cloak with yellow trim, carrying a staff; dove between figures; interior with arches and green columns; text at bottom; latches have vertical leaf designs; fittings on front are openwork with leaf-like and heart motifs; received without a key

Coffer with print of "The Annunciation", c. 1490–1500

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In its day, this leather-covered coffer had straps and was carried as a shoulder bag or traveling case. Once open, it sheds light on an important use of early prints: a fifteenth-century hand-colored woodcut of the Annunciation is pasted inside the cover of the large compartment, transforming this wooden box into a portable altar. There is a second shallow “secret” compartment in the lid, which might have been used to store traveling papers, valuables, or even relics or a consecrated host. Just over a hundred such boxes survive, all dating between 1480 and 1510, all French, and all likely produced in Paris. The Master of the Very Small Hours of Anne of Brittany ran a flourishing workshop in Paris, producing tapestry designs, stained glass, illuminations, and woodcuts.

Details
Title
Coffer with print of "The Annunciation"
Artist Life
(active 1490–1508)
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2016.14
Curator Approved

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woodcut in black, hand colored with brush, stencil and watercolor on laid paper, mounted on the inside cover of a coffer, constructed of wood and iron; cover with nine iron fittings, hinges, a lock and hidden compartment on the top of the cover; dark brown/black patina on exterior; unfinished wood at interior; woodcut is image of the Annunciation, with Mary at left wearing maroon dress and red cloak, looking at a book on a stand; angel at right wearing a blue gown and red cloak with yellow trim, carrying a staff; dove between figures; interior with arches and green columns; text at bottom; latches have vertical leaf designs; fittings on front are openwork with leaf-like and heart motifs; received without a key