The highly refined craftsmanship and combination of materials links this casket to Gottfried Wolffram, who is believed to have trained in Danzig, a center for amber (fossilized resin) and ivory carving. In 1690, King Christian V of Denmark purchased a casket made of amber with ivory inlays for his wife from Wolffram; it is not certain that this is the same casket, but the design and the handling of these sumptuous materials represent a level of artistry that would make a suitable gift for a queen. Backed with golden foil, the oval and angular plaques of amber feature a full spectrum of sunset colors; they are secured on a wooden armature that displays their translucence, and the original red velvet lining heightens the golden glow. Set with five ivory relief panels engraved with idyllic landscapes and fitted with open-work, mercury-gilt hinges, this exquisite small chest for treasured objects is a treasure in itself.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist attributed to Gottfried Wolffram, Danish, before 1683-1716
  • Courtly Amber Casket
Date ca. 1695
Medium Amber, ivory, wood, glass, brass, and velvet
Dimensions Overall: 4 3/4 × 11 7/8 × 7 7/8 inches (12.1 × 30.2 × 20 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund
Accession Number 2009.41
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View Decorative Arts S350, Level 3 (see map)
since before 1900, private collection (Baden-Württemberg, Germany);
(Werner Schubert Antiquitäten, Würzburg, Germany);
(Kunsthandel Albrecht Neuhaus, Würzburg, Germany);
(Georg Laue, Munich, Germany);
2009-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Darr, A. "Discoveries: A Courtly Seventeenth-Century Amber and Ivory Casket," The Magazine Antiques 176, No. 6 (December 2009): pp. 28-33.

Darr, Alan Phipps, Yao-Fen You, and Megan Reddicks. “Recent Acquisitions (2007–15) of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts.” The Burlington Magazine 158 (June 2016): 501–512, p. 506 (ill.).

Bulletin of the DIA: Notable Acquisitions, 2000–2015 89, no. 1/4 (2015): p. 58–59 (ill.).