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Description

This coffret contains a rare copper engraving of the miraculous hosts of Daroca, a Spanish relic from the late thirteenth century. It is pasted to the interior lid of a coffret dated to the early sixteenth century, most likely as a replacement to an earlier print that was either damaged or considered to be outdated. A xylographic inscription at the top reads: “NON FECIT OMNI N[ATIONI]” (He has not done anything like it for other nations). A French name, “DESSERRES,” at the bottom of the print was likely added by a former owner. No other impressions of this engraving are presently known.

The engraving features a scene of the Virgin and Child accompanied by angles who display the cloth on which the miraculous hosts left their impressions. The two registers below show episodes of the miracle story, beginning with the consecration of the hosts before a battle against Muslim forces; the discovery that the hosts had turned to blood during the battle; and finally, the journey of the donkey who brought the miraculous hosts to the city of Daroca. The engraving may have been purchased as a souvenir during a visit to church of Saint Mary Colegiata in Daroca where a shrine was built for the corporeals in the sixteenth century. Single souvenir prints of the miracle were sold well into the nineteenth century (fig. 1).

Research by Severine Lepape has shown that coffrets continued to be produced well after their initial popularity in the decades around 1500 (Lepape 2019, 66-67). However, only a handful of these later sixteenth-century examples have survived, and additional investigations are needed. The coffret itself predates the engraving by over a century. Its construction – wood covered in tooled leather, reinforced by three iron fittings, with no horsehair cushion – is similar to another coffret of the same era, which contains an early sixteenth century woodcut of Saint Roch (Les Enluminures WOA 50366).

This coffret was once part of the largest single collection of Gothic coffrets formed by André and Marie-Thérèse Jammes, which was sold in 2007 (this coffret not included in the catalogue). The Jammes sale inspired new research by Severine Lepape, Sandra Hindman, and others on the typology and function of coffrets and their prints. A recent discovery of a Northern Renaissance painting of the Rest on the Flight, published by Hindman, reveals how coffrets were used. The painting includes a detail of a large, partially opened box containing a small leather-bound book with clasps, a rosary composed of precious gems, a brush, scissors, and two finger-rings all nest on diaphanous white cloth inside the box. This detail survives as the only known contemporary depiction of sixteenth-century coffrets. 

Literature

Unpublished. On coffrets see:

Hindman, S. “Gothic Traveling Coffers Revisited,” in Le Livre, La Photographie, L’Image & La Lettre: Essays in Honor of André Jammes, ed. S. Hindman, I. Jammes, B. Jammes and H. P. Kraus Jr., Paris, 2015, pp. 312-327.

Huyhn, M. and S. Lepape. “De la rencontre d’une image et d’une boîte: Les coffrets à estampe,” La Revue des Musées de France, 4 (2011), pp. 37-50. 

Lepape, S. “Du nationalism au surréalism: Une petite histoire de coffrets,” Bulletin du Bibliophile, 1 (2012), pp. 11-23.

Lepape, S. “When Assemblage Makes Sense: An Example of a Coffret à Estampe,” Art in Print, 2 (2012), pp. 9-14. 

Lepape, S. et al. Mystérieux coffrets: Estampes au temps de La Dame à la licorne, Paris, 2019.

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