Results 1 9
6 Previous Next

Cabinet with Scenes from the Life of David
Additional Views Explore Object
Creative Commons License

Cabinet with Scenes from the Life of David

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description This cabinet with its 21 compartments (some hidden) is a marvel of woodcarving and a celebration of intricacy. Architectural elements and ornamental detailing frame narrative compositions, organized into a lattice of ordered compartments. Forty-eight scenes relate the Old Testament story of David, "prophet and king," as a model of virtue. The significance of each scene is distilled by a Latin motto, for example the death of David (inside of the right-hand door), by PIETATIS DEFUNCTIO (a pious death). The artist Peter Opel of Regensburg proudly inscribed his name on the door to the central compartment and, on the back, carved his self-portrait, dressed as a gentleman but holding a chisel. The chest was designed to hold small treasures and antiquities.


Date Description Narrative
  • World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
  • Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001.
Provenance Eugen Felix (through J. and S. Goldschmidt as dealers), Leipzig; sale, J.M Heberle, Cologne, October 25, 1886, no. 1053. Owned by heirs of Eugen Felix, New York; sale, J.P. Silo, New York [1]. Acquired by Julius David Ichenhauser, London; inherited by Mrs. Ichenhauser, London, 1910; sale, Christies, London. Acquired by Arnold Seligman Rey. and Co., New York; purchased by Henry Walters, New York, December 14 1915; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931. [1] sold on behalf of his creditors at J.P. Silo, Fifth Avenue
Inscriptions [Signature]; [Transcription] PIETATIS DEFUNCTIO; [Translation] a pious death [Inscription] Exterior of left door: SAVLVS REX ISRA; [Translation] Saul, King of Israel; [Inscription] Exterior of left door: DAVID PROPHET REX; [Translation] David, Prophet and King; [Inscription] Exterior of inner door: VIRTUTIS EXER / CITATISSIMAE PRO / BATUM DEO SPEC / TACULUM, EX DAVID / PASTORIS MILITIS / DUCIS, EXULIS AC / PROPHETAE EXEMPLIS / PETRO. OPELIO. CIVE / RATISBON: SCULPEN; [Translation] A Display of Well-exercised Virtue, Pleasing to God, and Drawn from Examples of David as Shepherd, Soldier, Leader, Exile and Prophet. By Peter Opel, Citizen of Regensburg and Sculptor. Inscriptions on the interior of the cabinet [1]: [Inscription] Interior of inner door: IN DEO IEHO / VA SPES MEA; [Translation] In the Lord Jehovah is my Hope; [Inscription] BONA INDOLES RECTE CULTA; [Translation] A Noble Nature Well Cultivated; [Inscription] FIDEI TYROCINIA; [Translation] The Apprenticeship of Faithful Protection; [Inscription] MODESTIA PROBATA; [Translation] A Modesty Found Pleasing; [Inscription] VIRTVS VLTRO INCITATA; [Translation] Valor Steps Forth of its [own] Accord; [Inscription] EXPEDITIO MVNITISSIMA; [Translation] A Most Secure Undertaking; [Inscription] FIDEI VICTORIA; [Translation] The Victory of Faith; [Inscription] PIETATIS TRIVMPHVS; [Translation] The Triumph of Piety; [Inscription] HVMANAR[VM]. OPVM PRAESTANTISSIMAE; [Translation] The Most Excellent of Human Riches; [Inscription] CIRCVMSPECTA VIRTVS; [Translation] Circumspect Fortitude; [Inscription] DELIBERATA SPES; [Translation] An Expectation Fulfilled; [Inscription] VIRTVTIS PRAEMIVM; [Translation] The Reward of Manly Courage; [Inscription] CONIVGII FIDES; [Translation] The Steadfastness of Marriage; [Inscription] AMICITIAE VERAE VSVS; [Translation] The Exercise of True Friendship; [Inscription] PIETATIS PRIVILEGIVM; [Translation] The Just Due of Piety; [Inscription] PRVDENTIAE TVTELA; [Translation] The Safety Afforded by Foresight; [Inscription] PRVDENTIA PIETATIS COMES; [Translation] Prudence, an Ally of Piety; [Inscription] VIRTVTIS VERAE LIBERALITAS; [Translation] The Liberality of True Virtue; [Inscription] FORTITVDO INNOCENS; [Translation] Strength in Restraint; [Inscription] INGRATA AVARITIA; [Translation] Ungrateful Avarice; [Inscription] PRVDENTIA SALVTARIS; [Translation] An Advantageous Prudence; [Inscription] REVERENTIA SOSPITALIS; [Translation] A Protecting Reverence; [Inscription] PIETAS ASSERTRIX; [Translation] Piety as Protector; [Inscription] TEMPERANTIA REGIA; [Translation] Royal Temperance; [Inscription] INGENVVS CANDOR; [Translation] Noble Sincerity; [Inscription] PERSEVERANTIAE FRVCTUS; [Translation] The Fruits of Perseverance; [Inscription] INGENVA HUMANITAS; [Translation] A Noble Benevolence; [Inscription] INTEGRITAS; [Translation] Integrity; [Inscription] CONSTANTIAE EXITVS; [Translation] The Results of Constancy; [Inscription] PIETATIS HILARITAS; [Translation] The Good Cheer of Piety; [Inscription] IMMORTALES FOEDUS; [Translation] An Everlasting Alliance; [Inscription] OTIVM CALAMITOSVM; [Translation] Destructive Pleasure; [Inscription] LIBERA MONITIO; [Translation] Forthright Counsel; [Inscription] VERAE GLORIAE AMPLIFICATIO; [Translation] The Gains of True Glory; [Inscription] INTEMPERANTIAE FRVCTVS; [Translation] The Fruits of Indulgence; [Inscription] NIMIA LENITAS; [Translation] Too Much Leniency; [Inscription] ERRATOTVM EXPVRGATIO; [Translation] The Rooting Out of Wrongdoing; [Inscription] PATERNA CLEMENTIA; [Translation] Paternal Compassion; [Inscription] IMPIETATIS EXITVS; [Translation] The Consequence of Impiety; [Inscription] IVS INVICTVM; [Translation] An Inviolable Law; [Inscription] TEMERITATIS CASVS; [Translation] Downfall Attends Rashness; [Inscription] INIVRIAE PARTVS; [Translation] An Atonement for Wrongs; [Inscription] DIGNITATIS OBSERVATIO; [Translation] The Observance of Due Dignities; [Inscription] GLORIA INSIDIOSA; [Translation] Insidious Glory; [Inscription] HVMANAE GLORIAE EXAMEN; [Translation] The Measure of Human Ambition; [Inscription] CLEMENTIA MEMOR; [Translation] Clemency Comes to Those Mindful of Their Duties; [Inscription] SAPIENS SENECTVS; [Translation] Wise in Old Age; [Inscription] ADVLATIO FALLAX; [Translation] False Adulation; [Inscription] PIETATIS DEFVUNCTIO; [Translation] Performance of Piety; [Inscription] Below Opel’s self portrait: DEO IOHO/ VA SPES MEA; [Translation] In the Lord God Jehovah is my hope. Inscriptions on the left exterior side of the cabinet: [Inscription] SATVRNVS; [Inscription] IVPITER; [Inscription] MARS; [Inscription] SOLI; [Translation] abbreviated form of sol invictus [?] Sol/ Helios, the Sun; [Inscription] VENVS; [Inscription] MER; [Translation] abbreviated form of Mercury); [Inscription] LVNA; [Translation] Diana in the guise of Luna, the moon goddess. [1] See The Journal of the Walters Art Museum 72, p. 71-72 for biblical sources related to these inscriptions.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1915

Download Image Add to Collection Creative Commons License

ca. 1580-1590 (Renaissance)
pine, boxwood, steel, gilded steel, copper alloy (brass?), gilded brass, silk, paper
Accession Number
H: 28 3/8 x W: 22 11/16 in. (72 x 57.6 cm)

Thumbnail: Cabinet with Scenes from the Life of David Thumbnail: Cabinet with Scenes from the Life of David Thumbnail: Cabinet with Scenes from the Life of David Thumbnail: Cabinet with Scenes from the Life of David
Zoom Out Zoom In Back to Details  
Full Size: Cabinet with Scenes from the Life of David