25 x 37 3/4 x 23 in. (63.5 x 95.9 x 58.4 cm)
Medium and Support:
Bequest of Mabel Coleman
Location: Not currently on view
According to family lore, this chest was removed from the cathedral in Puebla, Mexico, in 1910 by Lord Cowdray, a British petroleum magnate, and later sold to the donor’s aunt, who was a nurse in Mexico. Whether or not this provenance is accurate, it is a beautiful and puzzling piece. MAG consulted an expert on Hispanic furniture, who called it “a quality antique piece of authentic craftsmanship” but was unable to confirm its origin. She cited similar styles prevalent throughout Latin America and noted that sometimes artisans used old wood and primitive tools, even distressing and rusting the materials to appear older. Her best guess was that the chest was made in the 19th century, possibly in Peru, considering the fine and profuse carving. However, she noted that the eyelet hinges did indeed look Mexican. Such are the mysteries that museum curators sometimes research for many years without reaching a definitive conclusion.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]