National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Chalice of the Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis French 12th Century (cup Alexandrian 2nd/1st Century B.C.)
French 12th Century (artist)
Chalice of the Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, 2nd/1st century B.C. (cup); 1137-1140 (mounting)
sardonyx cup with heavily gilded silver mounting, adorned with filigrees set with stones, pearls, glass insets, and opaque white glass pearls
overall (height): 18.4 cm (7 1/4 in.) overall (diam. at base): 11.7 cm (4 5/8 in.) overall (diam. at top): 12.4 cm (4 7/8 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.277
On View
From the Tour: Medieval Metalwork and Enamels
Object 1 of 8

Provenance

Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, France, from 1137/1140 to 1791;[1] Cabinet National des Médailles et Antiques, Paris, from 30 September 1791 to 16 February 1804;[2] acquired 1804 by Charles Towneley [1737-1805], London; in the Towneley family, London, until possibly 1920. (Harry Harding, London), in 1920; (Goldschmidt Galleries, New York), by 1921; purchased 20 March 1922 by Joseph E. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, after purchase by funds of the Estate; gift 1942 to NGA.

[1] Abbot Suger did not disclose the provenance of his sardonyx cup. It may have been brought to Saint-Denis by dealers who flocked there in great numbers, or it may have been a pawn redeemed by a wealthy lender of the Jewish community that had settled in Saint-Denis and Paris (Panofsky, Erwin, Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis and Its Art Treasures, 1946, 2nd ed., Princeton, 1979, 55.) [2] In fulfillment of the law ordering the nationalization of the monastic orders, on 30 September 1791 the chalice was taken away from Saint-Denis and deposited at the Cabinet National des Médailles et Antiques. On the night of 16-17 February 1804, it was stolen from the Cabinet National, forced into a plaster bust of Laocoön, and smuggled, presumably by way of Holland, to England, which was then at war with France.

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