Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: The Grand Duchess Olga Gold Casket, 1800-1850

Gilt Bronze and Micromosaic Jewel Casket
St. Petersburg, 1800-1850
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Collection

Tsar Paul I (reigned 1796-1801) built Gatchina Priory, south of St. Petersburg, commissioning the monumental structure in the Gothic style which he favored. This jewel casket exhibits a similar style. It’s believed that the casket (made either in Rome or St. Petersburg) was created for the Grand Duchess Olga (1822-92), the daughter of Tsar Nicholas I.

The casket is constructed of gilt bronze with relief friezes of intricate archways, each interrupted by a central oval. Many of the oval medallions have been inset with micromosaics of putti in the act of play. The jewel case’s top section is adorned with a relief of arcs, arches and fleurs-de-lis set against foliage. At the center of the lid, a rectangular mosaic has been set. This intricate scene depicts the Gatchina Priory nestled into a lush landscape.

Made between 1800 and 1850, the casket is thought to be the work of Georgi Ferdinand Wekler, considered one of the foremost mosaicists of his day. The box is now part of the Gilbert Collection at the V&A.

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