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Work Chess and trictrac board

Department of Decorative Arts: Renaissance

Échiquier et jeu de trictrac

© 1992 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
Renaissance

Author(s):
Louise Rogers Lalaurie

Double-sided gaming board comprising a 64-square black and white chess board, and a trictrac or backgammon board featuring a dark green ground and four central lozenges containing profile portraits. The boards are framed with sixteen elongated panels decorated with elements derived from Classical trophies. An object of considerable refinement, dated and signed by Léonard Limosin, the board is first recorded in a private collection in the mid-XIXth century. Its earlier provenance is unknown.

The games

Precursor of the XIXth-century game jacquet (in French) or backgammon (in English), trictrac is the XVIIth-century French name for the medieval game 'tables', itself a descendant of the Roman game Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum ('Twelve-lined Game'). The 'tables' are the round tokens used in the game (similar to today's draughts). The checkerboard is the familiar support for the game of chess, which originated in northern India in the Vth century AD. Introduced to western Europe by the Arab conquerors of southern Spain, chess enjoyed a veritable renaissance throughout the West in the XVth century. Both games involve moving tokens or chess pieces across the boards, and the fine condition of this piece indicates that it was probably intended for decorative use only. This is the only known example of a gaming board using the Limoges technique of painted enamel; however, an enamel trictrac board is mentioned in the inventory of the estate of the Duc de la Meilleraye, chief artillery officer and Maréchal de France (Field-Marshal) in 1664.

The work of Léonard Limosin

Léonard Limosin's first dated works are a number of religious plaques made in 1533; a signed plaque depicting the legend of Psyche, in the Louvre collections, is dated 1534. His first enamelled portrait, of François I's second wife Eleanor of Austria, is dated 1536. Limosin's prolific output includes pieces dated as late as 1571. This gaming board is a particularly fine example of his genius: note the harmonious tones of the grisaille elements against the green ground of the surrounding framework; the finesse and originality of the gold motifs decorating the white squares of the checkerboard and the spaces between the points of the trictrac game; the refinement of the busts decorating the latter's central field.        

Technical description

  • Léonard LIMOSIN

    Échiquier et jeu de trictrac

    1537

    Limoges

  • Émail peint sur cuivre

    H. : 46,50 cm. ; L. : 47 cm.

  • Acquis en 1852 , 1852

    ML 128

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Maître de l'Enéide
    Room 15

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