Alphonse Giroux & Co.
Alphonse Giroux & Co., French, Jewel casket, ca. 1880, Gilt bronze with bright-cut engraving, steel straps, ivory; 26.7 x 29.5 x 19.1 cm (10 1/2 x 11 5/8 x 7 1/2 inches), Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund Helen M. Danforth Fund 2002.49
Associated with luxurious materials, elaborate rituals, and picturesque ruins, the revival of Gothic style became the height of fashion across Europe and America after 1830, coinciding with the rise of romantic literature. Alphonse Giroux & Co. made this jewel casket for a member of the Rothschild family, Europe’s leading bankers whose crest appears on the lid. The artful combination of steel, gilt bronze, and ivory was a specialty of Giroux. In a vivid reference to medieval art, the domed shape of this casket imitates French iron coffers from the fifteenth century, while the fully carved ivory figures at each corner recall sculpture on many Gothic cathedrals.