An Extremely Rare and Very Fine Turned Box and Cover with the Tudor Rose attributed to the 'Master Turner' to the Court of Henry VIII
Late 16th Century / Circa 1540 - 60
3.2 cm. (1 ¼ in.)
Provenance:Ex Private English collection, purchased in the 1970's ;
IVORY ACT 2018: A certificate for a pre-1918 item of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value. Certificate number: X68YU8H9 date: 24/05/2023
Further information:Engine turned with a fine colour and patina
Tudor Court of England
Size: 3.2cm high, 5cm dia. - 1¼ ins high, 2 ins dia.
For a very similar turning see: Ivory turned case housing a miniature of Ann of Cleves by Hans Holbein, 1539, Victoria and Albert Musuem, London
Only two artefacts, other than miniature cases seem to have survived from the Tudor period. The first being the 'Parker Box' now housed in the V&A museum London. Archbishop Parker was the then head of the newly formed Protestant Church of England between 1559 and 1575, who in turn gave the box, together with its companion jewel depicting Venus and Cupid at the Forge of Vulcan, to Queen Elisabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Parker had previously been chaplain to them both. It has been suggested that after Anne Boleyn was beheaded by Henry VIII in 1536, the jewel and case, having been made for Anne, and designed by Holbein, who was by trade a jeweller, that Anne passed the box to her chaplain at her execution, to be held in trust for her daughter. Parker, later, when Archbishop of Canterbury, subsequently passed the box to her Protestant daughter, Elisabeth.
There appears to be a transition from the Master, who created these small boxes, and miniature cases within the Tudor Court, between, 1530's and 1560's using the original royal turning lathe †, to a subsequent turner or turner's who although continued the tradition throughout the later years of the 16th centuries and into the early 17th century, never achieved the same intimate delicacy of the 'Master'. By the 1620's ivory, a highly valuable commodity at the time, had been replaced by Lignum Vitae, a very durable and dense wood, which will sink in water, becoming a very popular material for turned boxes, candlesticks, cups and vessels throughout the 17th century. Lignum, like tobacco had been introduced to Europe in the 1560's. The pinnacle and height of the fashion, for these 'dark' turned artefacts came during the reign of Charles I and under Cromwell's Commonwealth.
† The Tudor Royal 'Turning Lathe', was a complex piece of equipment, which not only required a high degree of intelligence and ability to operate, but as seen in the earlier examples created by the unknown Tudor Court turner, but also a high level of artistic creativity and skill. Together with a super human degree of 'feel' or 'touch' and patience, the 'thinness' achieved creating and turning the 'petals' of the rose are 'paper-thin'.