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More information on this object can be found in the Gallery publication Western Decorative Arts, Part I: Medieval, Renaissance, and Historicizing Styles Including Metalwork, Enamels, and Ceramics, which is available as a free PDF


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 Townley [1737-1805], London; in the Townley 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.

Exhibition History

Treasures from Medieval France, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1967, 70-71, color repro.
[Loan in conjunction with symposium on Byzantine Liturgy], Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., 1979. [published incorrectly in Systematic Catalogue as 1978]
The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis in the Time of Abbot Suger (1125-1151), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981, 108-111.
Le Trésor de Saint-Denis, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1991, no. 28, repro. 175.
The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era A.D. 843-1261, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997, no. 296, repro.

Technical Summary

The domed foot of the sardonyx cup is no longer visible in the modern restoration. It is hidden by the circlet studded with pearls above the knob. Between 1633 and 1706 a lower curl and a loop were added to the curling upper parts of the handles. The faceted stones of the knob are late medieval replacements. Only a few of the original stones meticulously itemized in the 1634 inventory remain today. The modern replacements are mainly glass insets, red or purple, and a number of pearls are imitations in white glass. The lower part of the foot is different from what it was until the French Revolution. It has been straightened out into a narrower and more conical shape. The flat bottom edge has been remade, with the addition of a beaded string and a cable. All the stones and the settings have been changed.


Doublet, Dom Jacques. Histoire de l'Abbaye Royale de Saint Denys en France. Paris, 1625.
Duchesne, François. Historia Francorum. Vol. 4. Paris, 1641.
Félibien, Michael. Histoire de l'abbaye royale de Saint-Denys en France. 1706. Reprint Paris, 1976, recueil de pièces justificatives, part 2, 172-187.
Marion du Mersan. Histoire du cabinet des médailles, antiques et pierres gravées. Paris, 1838: 166, 177–178.
Lecoy de la Marche, A. Oeuvres complètes de Suger. Paris, 1867.
Bouquet, Martin. Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France. Vol. 12. Paris, 1781. 2d ed., Paris, 1877.
Rohault de Fleury, Charles. La Messe. Etudes archéologiques sur ses monuments. 8 vols. Paris, 1883-1889, 4:123-124, pl. 309.
Omont, Henri. Inventaire du trésor de Saint-Denis en 1505 et 1739. Paris, 1901.
Guibert, Joseph. Les dessins du cabinet de Peiresc au Cabinet des Estampes de la Bibliothèque Nationale. Paris, 1910: 27-28, 33-35, 39, 41-43, 46, pl. III.
Conway, Sir W. Martin. "The Abbey of Saint-Denis and its Ancient Treasures." Archaeologia or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity 66 (1915): 103-158, pl. 16.
Rosenberg, Marc. Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen. 3d ed. 4 vols. Frankfurt-am-Main, 1922-1928: 4:311-312.
Ricci, Seymour de. "Un calice du trésor de Saint-Denis." Académie des inscriptions et Belles-Lettres: Comptes Rendus des séances de l'année Paris (1923): 335-339.
Rosenberg, Marc. "Ein wiedergefundener Kelch." Festschrift zum sechzigsten Geburtstag von Paul Clemen. Bonn, 1926: 209-217.
Braun, Joseph, S.J. Das Christliche Altargerät in seinem Sein und in seiner Entwicklung. Munich, 1932: 46-47, pl. 3, fig. 8.
Works of Art from the Widener Collection. Foreword by David Finley and John Walker. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 9.
Panofsky, Erwin. Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis and its Art Treasures. Princeton, 1946. 2d ed. Edited by Gerda Panofsky-Soergel. Princeton, 1979.
Seymour, Charles. Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1949: 10, 171, note 1, repro. 27.
Pope-Hennessy, John. 'Review: Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art by Charles Seymour." The Burlington Magazine 93, no. 576 (March 1951): 98.
Christensen, Erwin O. Objects of Medieval Art from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952: 6-7.
Guth, Paul. "Le trésor fabuleux des rois mages." Connaissance des arts 70 (December 1957): 147.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): 1, pl. 1.
Revel, J. F. "Un problème controversé: l'exil des oeuvres d'art." Connaissance des arts 96 (February 1960): 42-43, color pl.
Frinta, Mojmír. “A Note on Theophilus, Maker of Many Wonderful Things.” Art Bulletin 46, no. 4 (December 1964):529, note 20.
Crosby, Sumner McKnight. "The Creative Environment." Ventures, Magazine of the Yale Graduate School 5, no. 2 (1965): 10-15.
Treasures from Medieval France. Exh. cat. Cleveland Museum of Art, 1967: 70-71, color repro.
Wentzel, Hans. "Abseitige Trouvaillen an Goldschmied." Studien zur Buchmalerei und Goldschmiedekunst des Mittelalters. Fest. K.H. Usener. Marburg-an-der-Lahn, 1967: 65-78, especially 74-75, figs. 14-15.
von Euw, Anton. In Fillitz, Hermann. Das Mittelalter I. Propyläen Kunstgeschichte. Vol. 5. Berlin, 1969: 256.
Frisch, Teresa G. "Gothic Art 1140 -c. 1450." Sources and Documents in the History of Art. Ed. by H. W. Janson. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1971: 11.
Lasko, Peter. Ars Sacra. Pelican History of Art. Baltimore, 1972: 227.
Finley, David Edward. A Standard of Excellence: Andrew W. Mellon Founds the National Gallery of Art at Washington. Washington, 1973: 101.
Montesquiou-Fezensac, Blaise de, and Gabrielle Gaborit-Chopin. Le Trésor de Saint-Denis, Inventaire de 1634. Paris, 1973: 38, 57-58, 164-165.
Verdier, Philippe. "Réflexions sur l'esthétique de Suger." Etudes de civilisation médiévale: Mélanges offerts à Edmond-René Labande. Poitiers, 1975: 699-709, 700-702, figs. 1, 2.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 36, color repro.
Montesquiou-Fezensac, Blaise de, and Gabrielle Gaborit-Chopin. Le Trésor de Saint-Denis. Document divers. Paris, 1977: 177-181.
Montesquiou-Fezensac, Blaise de, and Gabrielle Gaborit-Chopin. Le Trésor de Saint-Denis. Planches et notices. Paris, 1977: 57-59, pls. 41-43.
The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis in the Time of Abbot Suger (1125-1151). Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981: 108-111.
Alsop, Joseph. The Rare Art Traditions: The History of Art Collecting and Its Linked Phenomena Wherever These Have Appeared. Bollingen series 35, no. 27. New York, 1982: 57.
Brenk, B. "Suger Spolien." Arte Medievale 1 (1983): 107.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 34, color repro. 35.
Verdier, Philippe. "The Chalice of Abbot Suger." Studies in the History of Art 24 (1990): 9-29.
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 196, color repro.
Le Trésor de Saint-Denis. Exh. cat. Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1991: no. 28, repro. 175.
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 308, repro.
Distelberger, Rudolf, Alison Luchs, Philippe Verdier, and Timonthy H. Wilson. Western Decorative Arts, Part I: Medieval, Renaissance, and Historicizing Styles including Metalwork, Enamels, and Ceramics. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1993: 4-12, color fig. 4.
Honour, Hugh and John Fleming. A World History of Art. 7th ed. New York, 2005: 377, color fig. 9.37.
Richler, Martha. National Gallery of Art, Washington: A World of Art. London, 1997: 18, color fig. 8.
Pennanen, Valerie Hutchinson. "Communion." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art, ed. Helene E. Roberts. 2 vol. Chicago and London, 1998: 1:180-181, 184,186, repro.
National Gallery of Art Special Issue. Connaissance des Arts. Paris, 2000: repro. 59, 62.
Vaughan, Gerard. "An Eighteenth-Century Classicist's Medievalism: The Case of Charles Townley." In Reading Texts and Images: Essays on Medieval and Renaissance Art and Patronage in Honor of Margaret M. Manion. Edited by Bernard J. Muir. Exeter, UK: 2002: 307, 318, fig. 108.
Gopnik, Blake. "Oldest Object on Display--National Gallery of Art." The Washington Post (October 3, 2010): R9, repro.
Inglis, Erik. "Expertise, Artifacts, and Time in the 1534 Inventory of the St.-Denis Treasury," The Art Bulletin 98 (2016): 17, 19, fig. 5, 24, 32, 39, n. 138.
National Gallery of Art. Highlights from the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Washington, 2016: 33, repro.
Dickerson III, C.D. "The Sculpture Collection: Shaping a Vision, Expanding a Legacy." National Gallery of Art Bulletin 56 (Spring 2017): 8, repro.
George, Philippe. Art et patrimoine en Wallonie des origines à 1789: Essai de synthèse à la lumière des collections américaines et européennes. Namur, 2017: 165, fig. 234.

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