Casket panel, seizure of Helen

WB.27     about 1540 • Painted and enamelled on copper • panel

Two pairs of enamelled panels to decorate wcaskets. The first two, on a black ground, show a boating party and the Abduction of Helen. The second pair, on a blue ground, show the Triumph of Caesar and the Judgement of Paris. Sets of panels would be mounted in metal to make jewellery caskets.

Curator's Description

Painted Limoges enamel panel; copper, rectangular, set in a modern painted wood frame; The Rape of Helen; Helen escorted by Paris into a boat; inscribed; painted in grisaille and semi-opaque enamels on a white preparation, all on a black ground with gilding; counter enamel dull liver colour.

This object was collected by Anselm von Rothschild and bequeathed to the British Museum by Ferdinand Anselm Rothschild.

How big is it?

12.7 cm wide, 7.6 cm high, 0.6 cm deep, and it weighs 42g

Detailed Curatorial Notes

Provenance: Baron Anselm von Rothschild, Vienna, between 1866 and 1872 (cat no. 487), by inheritance to his son Baron Ferdinand Rothschild (d. 1898).

Commentary: The panel is likely to have been part of a casket.


  • Charles Hercules Read, 'The Waddesdon Bequest: Catalogue of the Works of Art bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898', London, 1902, no. 27
  • O.M. Dalton, 'The Waddesdon Bequest', 2nd edn (rev), British Museum, London, 1927, no.27
  • John Mack, 'The Art of Small Things', London, British Museum, 2007, p.21.
  • References

    1. Read 1902: Read, Charles Hercules, The Waddesdon Bequest. Catalogue of the Works of Art Bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898, London, BMP, 1902
    2. Dalton 1927: Dalton, Ormonde Maddock, The Waddesdon Bequest : jewels, plate, and other works of art bequeathed by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild., London, BMP, 1927
    3. Scrase handlist: Scrase handlist

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