- Museum number
Gold cruciform pendant, a copy of the Cuthbert Cross. The equal arms are curved in outline and are ornamented with deep red cloisonné enamel, the centre is set with a flat-cut garnet surrounded by four flat-cut amethysts. Both the central roundel and the arms are bordered by ropework and dog-tooth ornament and the outer edge has gold beads. At the back is a circular hair compartment. Trade label and in original labelled green leather case.
- Production date
- 1860-1880 (circa)
Width: 6.30 centimetres (cross)
- Curator's comments
- Text from catalogue of Hull Grundy Gift (Gere et al 1984) no. 988:
This is a direct copy of the seventh-century pectoral cross of St Cuthbert, now in Durham Cathedral Library (Fig. 92), discovered when St Cuthbert's tomb in Durham Cathedral was opened officially in 1827 for the first time since the Reformation (there is evidence of a number of openings between the burial of the saint in 687 and his translation in 1104). The publication of the opening of the tomb (Raine 1828) contains a poor line-drawing of the cross, which was not published fully until 1937 (Kendrick 1937) and again in 1956 (Bruce-Mitford 1956, pp.308-25).
A number of features have been modified or misunderstood. The original is of thin gold, hollow built, while the copy, although hollow, is cast and uses red cloisonne enamel as a substitute for cloisonné garnets. The use of amethyst is also a nineteenth-century modification. The sizes are almost the same, the original being 6 cm in width, but the heart-shaped filigree motifs on the suspension loop have been interpreted as an engraved design. Since the heart-shaped motifs (Bruce-Mitford 1956, p. 311, fig. 1) are only visible from the top and not when the cross is viewed straight on, this may be an indication that the jeweller was working from photographs or colour lithographs. Durham Cathedral Library houses two modern copies of the cross, but the makers are not known.
The substitution of cloisonné enamel for cloisonné garnets was also practised by the Castellani firm, as can be seen on their radiate brooch in the Museo di Villa Giulia in Rome, which copies the late fourth to fifth-century Ostrogothic original, acquired by the British Museum with the Castellani collection in 1872 (see exhibition catalogue, Romans and Barbarians, Boston, 1976, no 153) (Judy Rudoe)
Supplement to catalogue entry:
St Cuthbert's Cross, Sotheby, 28.9.78, Lot 325. Illus. Bury, 1991, vol II, col. pl. 116. For another example, see Sotheby, New York, 12-13 April 1999, lot 41, with box. (Charlotte Gere)
See also C. Gere & J. Rudoe, 'Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria: A Mirror to the World', London, British Museum, 2010, fig. 347 p.377. Caption: ‘Copy of the Cuthbert Cross, enamelled gold. Made by Phillips Brothers & Son, London, about 1870.’
Text: ‘An exception [in the jewel finds from Anglo-Saxon graves] is Robert Phillips’s copy of the Cuthbert Cross, which had been known since the opening of St Cuthbert’s tomb in 1827 and so was seen as a historic rather than an archeological piece. The cult of St Cuthbert was subsequently linked with the Tractarians as evidence of the existence of Anglo-Catholicism and this may have prompted such reproductions’
The author of the detailed account of the finding of the tomb, published in the following year with a line-drawing of the cross was James Raine, antiquarian, priest and librarian to the dean and chapter of Durham Cathedral (‘St Cuthbert with an account of the state in which his remains were found upon the opening of his tomb in Durham Cathedral in the year MDCCCXXVII’, London, 1828). Shirley Bury suggests (Bury, 1991, vol II, plate 247, p. 468) that the line-drawing could have been Phillips’ source for his replicas. In default of viewing the cross itself, this was for many years the sole source. (Charlotte Gere)
- On display (G47/dc11)
- Exhibition history
2011 23 June-9 Oct, London, BM, 'Treasures of Heaven'
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: HG.1066 (masterlist number)