Spanish Spain, Chest, 15th Century, Walnut with wrought iron; 66 x 134.6 x 65.1 cm (26 x 53 x 25 5/8 inches), Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 17.057
The pointed arches and interlocking tracery on this chest are in the medieval Gothic style. The verticality of this design recalls the soaring nave of a Roman Catholic cathedral, while the trefoils (three-lobed ornaments) symbolize the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. When this chest was made in Spain, most of the Iberian Peninsula was under Christian control; however, Muslim rule wasn’t eradicated entirely until 1492, when the Moorish city state of Granada finally fell. After some seven hundred years of Muslim domination, the art of Iberia absorbed the influence of Islamic design, which favored geometry and pattern over representation. This chest’s tracery bears a visual relationship to the decorative sequences executed in tile and other materials on such structures as the fourteenth-century Moorish Alhambra palace in Granada.