Marks and Labels
Stickers on interior (back): ON LOAN FROM T. Gambier Parry, Esq. April 19th 1862; on proper right bottom edge: 60.
Thomas Gambier Parry [1816-1888], Highnam Court, Gloucestershire, by 1862; Hubert Parry, 1888-1918; Ernest Gambier-Parry, 1918-1920; sold July 1920 to (Durlacher Brothers, London [?]); sold 1922 to Joseph E. Widener, 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.
- Special Exhibition of Works of Art of the Medieval, Renaissance, and More Recent Periods on Loan at the South Kensington Museum, June, 1862, South Kensington Museum, London, 1862, 73, no. 1072. Rev. ed. 1863.
- L'Oeuvre de Limoges: Emaux limousins du Moyen Age/Enamels of Limoges 1100-1350", Musée du Louvre, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1995-1996, no. 22, repro.
- Le chemin des reliques: Témoignages précieux et ordinaires de la vie religieuse à Metz au Moyen âge, Musées de la Cour d'Or, Metz, 2000-2001, no. 11, repro.
Some rubbing to the panels shows at the front (upper edges; on the proper right, at the join with the front; on the proper left (on the saint's face and at the join with the back), and on the back roof piece (edges and proper left, where separation suggests an effort at prying the box open). Several of the pins that hold the châsse together are missing. A dent and damage to the enamel border are found on the proper right end, with some enamel loss; a small chip is missing from the enamel border on the proper right of the Magi panel, and the roof piece appears to have been pried up slightly at the proper right corner. The object is otherwise in excellent condition.
Of the seven pieces of oak that usually form the core of a Limoges châsse, the bottom section is missing. It must once have contained the small door with a lock that provided access to the interior. The wood panels, roughly 10 mm thick, are set, in typical fashion, with the grain running horizontally or vertically according to the orientation of the panel. The proper right end panel, of newer-looking wood, appears to be a replacement.
On the bottom edges of the wood are worn patches of red pigment over a white layer. On the inner surfaces are blobs of fresher-looking red pigment without any layer underneath. X-ray fluorescence analysis indicated that the worn pigments are mercury sulfide (vermilion), which was typically applied over fine plaster as a protective film for the wood of châsses. The fresher blobs apparently contain barium sulphate (barytes), not used as an artist's pigment before the late eighteenth century. Its presence would indicate a restoration of the protective layer, perhaps on the same occasion when a wood panel was replaced.
X-ray fluorescence analysis also indicated that the metal plates are of a gilded, copper-rich alloy The presence of mercury indicates fire-gilding. All the enamel colors contained elemental distributions consistent with medieval production. Each color contains lead, which lowers the melting point of glass, and antimony, which generates a dense white color and hence acts as an opacifier to what would be translucent glazes.
 Gauthier 1966, 940-941, and 1987, 7-9. The author is grateful to Mme Gauthier and to Geneviève François for helpful correspondence concerning this and other works in enamel. Mme Gauthier, assisted by Mlle François, is directing a team of scholars in the research and publication of the Corpus des Emaux méridionaux, which aims to catalogue the thousands of surviving enamels made in Limoges and related centers in southern Europe from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. Five volumes are planned; the first is Gauthier 1987. See also Marie-Madeleine Gauthier and Geneviéve François, Medieval Enamels from the Keir Collection, ed. and trans. Neil Stratford [exh. cat., The British Museum] (London, 1981), 9-10. See the diagram in Gauthier 1987, 9; Gauthier 1987, 144, for the closely related Apt châsse, which opens at the bottom; pl. 202 for illustrations of a châsse with such an opening. Undated report [early 1985] by Gary W. Carriveau in NGA conservation laboratory files. See also Gauthier 1966, 940.. Report of I4 August 1986, in NGA conservation laboratory files. On medieval enamel techniques in general see Pamela England, "A Technical Investigation of Medieval Enamels," in Hanns Swarzenski and Nancy Netzer, Catalogue of Medieval Objects in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Enamels and Glass (Boston, 1986), xix-xxvi.
- South Kensington 1862, 73, no. 1072.
- Rupin, Ernest. L'oeuvre de Limoges. Paris, 1890: 424.
- Michel, André, ed. Histoire de l'art. 8 vols. in 17. Paris, 1905-1929, 2 (1906): 944 (section on enamels by Jean J. Marquet de Vasselot).
- Marquet de Vasselot, Jean J. Les émaux limousins à fond vermiculé. Paris, 1906: 11-13, pl. II.
- Inventory of the Objects d'Art at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, The Estate of the Late P.A.B. Widener. Philadelphia, 1935: 29.
- Hildburgh, Walter H. Medieval Spanish Enamels. London, 1936: 107, n. 4, 120.
- Works of Art from the Widener Collection. Foreword by David Finley and John Walker. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 9, as Limoges 12th Century, Chasse of champlevé enamel.
- Christensen, Erwin O. Objects of Medieval Art from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952: 10-15, 30, repro.
- Souchal, Geneviève. "Les émaux de Grandmont au XIIe siècle." Bulletin Monumental 121 (1963): 48, fig. 6, 59-60, n. 1.
- Gauthier, Marie-Madeleine. "Le goût Plantagenêt et les arts ... France du sud-ouest." Stil und Uberlieferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes. Akten des 21 Inter. Kongresses für Kunstgeschichte: Bonn 1964. Berlin, 1967: 152.
- Gauthier, Marie-Madeleine. "Une châsse limousine du ... XIIe siècle: ... iconog., comp., et ... chronologie." In Mélanges offerts à René Crozet. eds. Gallais and Riou, 2 vols. Poitiers, 1966: 2:942-945, 947-948, 951, no. C-55.
- Blunt, Anthony. "The History of Thomas Gambier Parry's Collection." The Burlington Magazine 109 (March 1967): 115-116.
- Gauthier, Marie-Madeleine. "A Limoges Champlevé Book-Cover in the Gambier-Parry Collection." The Burlington Magazine 109 (1967): 151-152, 156, fig. 61.
- Ostoia, Vera K. The Middle Ages; Treasures from The Cloisters and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Exh. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1969: 119; Art Institute of Chicago, 1970.
- Gauthier 1972, 98-99.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 36, color repro.
- Gauthier, Marie-Madeleine. Emaux méridionaux; Cat. Int'l. de ... Limoges ... romane, 1100-1190; Innovations mér.. Paris, 1987: 145-146, no. 148, color repros. 458-459, (pl. CXXX), repros. 510-512, (pl. CXXXIX), (pl. CXL).
- 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, D.C., 1993: 19-24, color fig. 19.
- Bynum, Caroline Walker. Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe. New York, 2011: 70, 73, fig. 16.