3. SILVER-GILT GEM-SET BOX
Height: 5.8 cm Width: 17 cm Depth: 7.4 cm Weight: 620 grams
An oblong silver and silver-gilt hinged box with an arched lid. The exterior of the box and cover has a silver ground that is pierced, enamelled and set with gem stones in the elegant blue and green on silver palette characteristic of Lucknow metalwork. The lid is hinged to the box along its length at the back and fastened with an S-shaped clasp on the front. Upon release of the clasp, the lid lifts open to reveal a silver-gilt interior that contrasts with the exterior in both its plain, undecorated surfaces and the sudden burst of warmth imparted by the gilding.
The lower part of the box is decorated on all four sides with pierced and chased floral arabesques, consisting of six-petalled flower-heads alternating with five-petalled flowers in profile, sprouting on a scrolling vine with bifurcated leaves and delicate buds. The vines are framed by thin double margins at the top and bottom and underlined by a band of curved petals arranged in a chevron just above the broad and plain solid silver base of the box.
The pierced decoration continues on the lid, with stacked flowers on horizontal interconnected stems beneath the curve of the arched shape, underpinned once again by a band of chevrons. The top of the lid is solid, not pierced, and is gem-set with three bold central flowers in foiled white sapphires and cabochon rubies in gold florets, on a background of green enamel. Bordering the green enamel cartouche are bands of scrolling gold vines bearing five-petalled cabochon ruby flowers and white sapphire leaves against a blue ground. The vivid colours of the enamels and the sparkling gemstones make an effective contrast with the lace-like silver filigree below.
Spink and Son, London, 11th April 1996
Ann and Gordon Getty, acquired from Spink and Son
Spink and Son, Visions of the Orient: Indian & Islamic Works of Art, 1995, pp. 20-21, cat. no. 11.