- Museum number
Rectangular champlevé enamel plaque depicting Moses, Aaron and the Brazen Serpent; in a modern 'book-cover', incorporating thirteenth-century filigree plaques, set with amethysts and with champlevé/ cloisonné enamels.
Frame: Modern wooden back, to which is pinned a thin ungilded copper plate. On to the plate, in the form of a 'medieval book-cover', various elements are pinned from the front: (A) forming an outer border, silver sheets, stamped with rayonnant Gothic tracery motifs, are edged by two projecting gilt-copper rectangular frames, each made in one piece and decorated on their front face with hatching and concave lobes; on to the silver sheets twelve gemstones are pinned, each in a plain gilt-copper mount with a zig-zag lower rim (four square rock crystals in the corners and eight smaller lapis lazuli); of the outer border, only the gem-stones themselves appear to be medieval (?). (B) an inner frame is formed by sections of stamped à jour gilt filigree with stems and naturalistic leaves; these are soldered to the edges of the vertical walls, which act as settings, so that the stems and leaves are proud of their backgrounds; in addition, they are set with six amethysts (width of border 14-16 mm); these alternate with, and are part of, the same plaques as six mounted enamels. Four of these on the sides are rectangular panels of mixed champlevé/ cloisonné enamel with simple geometric designs: quatrefoils, trefoils, hearts and a scalloped motif (all 40 mm high by 6-9 mm wide). The palette of six colours is: off-white, yellow (7.5Y 5/6-6/6), green (2..5G 3/2-3/4), turquoise (10BG 4/4-7.5BG 4/4 or 2.5B 3/4), pale blue (5PB 2/4-3/4), opaque red (10R 2/6-3/6). The glasses are fired in single cloisonné cells within a champlevé tray, with some smudging of the colours during firing. At the top and bottom are two mounted rectangular champlevé enamel plaques of the same dimensions as the four mixed champlevé/ cloisonné plaques; they are filled with deep blue enamel and decorated with a reserved motif of small four-leaf flowers. The whole inner frame is medieval.
Within (A) and (B) is pinned a rectangular champlevé enamel plaque. It has a stepped edge on three sides so that it can slot from below into a gilt-copper rectangular frame. This frame is decorated with the same hatched and lobed ornament as on (A), and this ornament is also found on the lower border of the enamel itself. The gilding of the plaque continues on to the sides and front surfaces of the stepped edge, as well as for a distance on the back. Within a reserved edge (2.5 mm wide; the lobed bottom border is 6.5 mm wide) is an enamelled frame of off-white within pale blue, 3 mm wide. The scene represented is that described in Numbers XXI, 9. Moses and Aaron identified by vertical inscriptions (. MOYSES . AARON .) hold the tablets of the Law (inscribed LEX MOYSI) and a flowering rod; they face each other on either side of a central column with double torus base and foliate capital, on which the brazen serpent (S/ ERPENS.) is displayed, its body forming a spiral. Behind Moses and Aaron the heads of two groups of Israelites are shown (. F/ ILII . . ISRAEL .). The following combinations of colours are found: off-white/pale blue/sometimes with mid- and deep blue; deep green/ pale green/sometimes with deep blue; turquoise/off-white. Opaque red appears as a row of dots on the serpent's body and on one of the leaves of the foliage capital, while a deep purple red (discoloured) is used for Aaron's shoes. The palette is: off-white, pale blue (7.5PB 5/4-5PB 5/4), mid-blue (7.5PB 4/4-5PB 4/4), deep blue (7.5PB 3/6-5PB 3/6), turquoise (2.5B 3/4-4/4), pale green (7.5GY 4/4), deep green (2.5G 3/2-3/4), opaque red (approx. 10R 3/6-4/6), deep purple-red (7.5RP 2/2).
- Production date
19thC (brazen serpent)
13thC(mid) (filigree and ornamental enamels)
Length: 220 millimetres
Weight: 193.50 grammes
Width: 165 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Stratford 1993
The Brazen Serpent plaque: Paris (?), before 1857.
The filigree and ornamental enamels: Mosan or Northern French, second quarter or mid-13th century.
Composition of the alloys: (XRF analysis, British Museum Research Laboratory)
(The Brazen Serpent plaque)
99% Cu, <0.3% Zn, 0.2% Pb, <0.05% Sn, <0.1% As, <0.1% Ni, 0.2% Sb,
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Bequeathed by the great glass-collector, Felix Slade, esq., FSA (1790-1868), who already owned the 'book-cover' in 1857, when it was exhibited in Manchester. Said in 1871 by Franks to come from the Préaux collection; it was not in the Préaux collection sold in Paris in 1850.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number