Toledo

Box with scenes of courtly life, France, 1300/1350. Ivory; silver (later fittings, hinges and lock), 6.4 cm x 14 cm x 8.7 cm. Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH, purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1950.303. Image courtesy of Toledo Museum of Art

By the turn of the 14th century, the increasing supply of ivory from Africa made it a medium of fashion while also gradually lowering the price, so much so that personal toiletry articles, such as combs, mirrors, and caskets, could be made out of the precious material that was once reserved almost solely for use by the church in Europe. These luxury domestic objects often featured secular scenes of romance and courtly life. The scenes on the front of this box include a youth holding a hawk on his wrist, a couple holding the box’s lock, a man crouching, and a lady holding a garland.