National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Medieval Metalwork and Enamels

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image of Ciborium image of Morse with the Trinity
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Each of the object types on this tour originally served sacred purposes. The Chalice of Abbot Suger (1), the Spanish ciborium (7), and the dove-shaped pyx (6) were each associated with the celebration of the liturgy; the reliquary châsse (3) formed a miniature "tomb" for the relic of a saint; the morse (8) was a fastener for ecclesiastical garb; and the crucifix (2) served as an object of devotion that could be inserted into a staff for processional use. The two aquamanile (4, 5), or pitchers in animal or human forms, were used for either liturgical or secular handwashing.


1French 12th Century (mounting); Alexandrian 2nd/1st Century B.C.(cup), Chalice of the Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, 2nd/1st century B.C. (cup); 1137-1140 (mounting)
2Probably Rhenish or Mosan 12th Century, Crucifix, c. 1150/1175
3French 12th Century, Reliquary Châsse, c. 1175/1180
4North French or Mosan 13th Century, Aquamanile in the Form of a Lion, c. 1200
5Probably English or Scandinavian 13th Century, Aquamanile in the Form of a Horseman, 13th century
6French 13th Century, Pyx in the Form of a Dove, c. 1220/1230
7Spanish 14th Century, Ciborium, c. 1330/1350
8French 15th Century (Trinity and Angels); European 19th Century (setting), Morse with the Trinity, c. 1400/1410 (Trinity and Angels); 1884/1897 (setting)