Van Cleef and Arpels
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
|Thinking Outside the Box
European Cabinets, Caskets, and Cases
from the Permanent Collection
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Feeling in a rarefied mood, I skipped down to the Met to see Thinking Outside The Box: European Cabinets, Caskets and Cases. Lucky for me, Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide, Curator of the show was giving a talk about the boxes, followed by Jukeboxes of Old: Music from Past Centuries.
For me these boxes are simply beautiful: for curators like Kisluk-Groshide they tell a story about the social life of the people who used them. There was a box made from precious materials for every possible aspect of life: strongboxes, bonbonnieres (sweet boxes) root boxes (toothbrushes) tea boxes, sugar boxes, shaving boxes, spice boxes, snuff boxes, gaming boxes, cosmetic boxes, wig boxes, and of course, the Necessaire (small boxes for a host of miniature objects). The history behind these boxes cannot found by googling: it’s in paintings, etchings, diaries, and letters.
|Duval de l’Epinoy with snuff box.|
|Reproduction of 16th century harpsichord|
No one I know uses a jeweled encrusted gold box for their knickknacks. But there is one box that almost everyone owns, finds indispensable and contains all their daily routines.