National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic World

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French 12th Century (cup Alexandrian 2nd/1st Century B.C.)
Chalice of the Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis,
sardonyx cup with heavily gilded silver mounting, adorned with filigrees set with stones, pearls, glass insets, and opaque white glass pearls
height: 18.4 cm (7 1/4 in.)
diam. at top: 12.4 cm (4 7/8 in.)
diam. at base: 11.7 cm (4 5/8 in.)
Widener Collection
Image: 
	  French 12th Century (cup Alexandrian 2nd/1st Century B.C.)
French 12th Century
French
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, height: 18.4 cm (7 1/4 in.)
diam. at top: 12.4 cm (4 7/8 in.)
diam. at base: 11.7 cm (4 5/8 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.277

This chalice is one of the precious liturgical vessels that Suger (1081–1151) gave to the treasury of his abbey church outside Paris. The provenance of the Ptolomaic-period cup is unknown. In Byzantium, rare antique and Islamic vessels were similarly mounted in jeweled settings of precious metal--though without the European-style stem and foot--when they were to be used as reliquaries or liturgical vessels. The aim was to both enhance their beauty and to Christianize them. Many Islamic rock crystal objects, as well as Sasanian and Byzantine vessels of semiprecious stone that had been mounted in Constantinople, ended up in European churches. Europeans who could afford them had the same rock crystal and semiprecious stone vessels mounted for secular use and display.

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