- Museum number
Silver chalice of parcel gilt. Wide shallow bowl engraved with busts of the Apostles under an arcade, each arch having an engraved background: in the spandrels, leaf-ornament or foliate scrolls. The knop, a flattened sphere formed of filigree scrolls of pearled wire with applied leaves and fruit between, under arches; above and below the knop two bands with filigree work. Flat circular foot set with four embossed medallions representing the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and the Maries at the Sepulchre. The interspaces are engraved with half-figures of angels, three holding scrolls, among foliate scroll-work, all on an engraved background.
- Production date
19th century (?)
Diameter: 14.60 centimetres (bowl)
Diameter: 15.60 centimetres (foot)
Height: 16.90 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Copy of the Romanesque chalice in the Holy Apostles' church, Cologne.
The gilt-silver chalice in the Holy Apostles' church, Cologne, which dates from about 1230, was one of the most celebrated of Romanesque liturgical objects. In the 1850s it was published by, and cast for, the scholar Franz Bock of Aachen. By the 1860s it was already a source of inspiration for neo-Romanesque goldsmiths' work, by Martin Vogeno in Aachen, Gabriel Hermeling in Cologne and Franz Xaver Hellner in Kempen, and its influence continued unabated, for instance from the 1870s onwards in the Düsseldorf workshops of C. A. Beumers and H. J. Wilms.
This copy of the Holy Apostles' chalice was bought by A. W. Franks, the first Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities and Ethnography of the British Museum, as a genuine Romanesque chalice, and he bequeathed it as such to the Museum in 1897. Indeed, it was still considered genuine in the Museum's silver catalogue of 1928. But it is very doubtful whether it was originally intended to deceive; it is much more likely to be one of the earliest of the numerous German nineteenth-century copies of Romanesque metalwork, such as that published by Franz Bock in his 'Die Goldschmiedekunst des Mittelalters' (Cologne 1855, pp. 17-20, no. 4) and 'Das heilige Köln' (Leipzig 1858, nr. 92, pl. XXVIII).
Unfortunately, we do not know when or where Franks bought his chalice. This would be of particular interest because the original in Cologne had a new stem added above the filigree knop at some unknown date before 1858. In a copy of 1863 at Kleve/Kellen by Hellner of Kempen this added stem is already replicated (K. B. Heppe, in 'Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts im Rheinland', Düsseldorf 1981, vol. 5 'Kunstgewerbe' p. 37, pl. 6). Since the British Museum copy does not include this added stem, it is tempting to suggest that it was made at the very moment that the unknown goldsmith had the original chalice in his workshop for restoration, before adding the new stem.
Literature: H. Schulte, 'Sakrale Goldschmiedekunst des Historismus im Rheinland. Ein Beitrag zur Gestalt und Geschichte retrospektiver Stilphasen im 19. Jahrhundert', Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophischen Fakultät der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität zu Münster, 1985, pp. 243-9. (The author is grateful to Dr Norbert Jopek for information incorporated in this entry.)
Text from Read and Tonnochy 1928, 'Catalogue of Silver Plate' (Franks Bequest):
Attention must be drawn to a Romanesque chalice in the church of the Holy Apostles at Cologne, which presents striking points of resemblance to the British Museum chalice, in the outline and the iconography. The form is similar, but the Cologne chalice has the knop separated from the bowl by the stem instead of being almost immediately connected with it. The type of arcade with half-figures of Apostles is the same, and the figures themselves with their attributes agree. The filigree work on the knop, and the outline of the spreading foot are identical. On the foot the raised medallions have the same subjects as are found on this chalice with the same iconographical details, and the interspaces are similarly occupied by angels holding scrolls and leaf-scrolls. The chalice is well illustrated and fully described in P. Clemen, 'Die Kunstdenkmäler der Rheinprovinz',VI, part iv, pp. 156 ff., Düsseldorf, 1916.
A chalice in the church of St. Maurice at Hildesheim has the arcading with figures of the Apostles, but without columns: the knop is similar, but with enamelled medallions having Evangelistic symbols and medallions; on the foot are medallions with Old Testament subjects and an inscription. (H. King, 'The Study Book of Mediaeval Architecture and Art', II, Hildesheim, pls. 13,14): another at Hanover, in private possession, shows the same type of decoration on knop and foot, but has a plain bowl (ibid., Ill, Hanover).
The silver-gilt chalice of Gottfried von Eptingen (about 1243-89), formerly in the Cathedral Treasury of Basle, and now preserved in the Historical Museum of the town, closely resembles the Franks chalice. The bowl is engraved on the outside with arcading with fleur-de-lis terminals, but without the figures of the Apostles; the knop, almost spherical, has similar open-work filigree scrolls; on the foot are medallions with symbols of the Evangelists with foliate ornament in the interspaces; an inscription round the foot records the gift of the chalice by Gottfried von Eptingen. A cover was added later, and it was used as a ciborium or perhaps as an incense-vessel ('Mitt. der Gesellschaft für vaterländische Alterthümer', IX, ii, Basel, 1867). Two chalices in the Nederlandsch Museum at Amsterdam should be noted, one of which (with a later bowl) shows on the foot, in addition to figures in relief of the kind found in the above examples, leafy scrolls in the interspaces on an engraved background as in the British Museum example. (A. Pit, 'Het Goud- en Zilverwerk in het Nederlandsch Museum . . . te Amsterdam', p. 3 and pl. 1, Amsterdam, 1901). A reproduction of the other is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2004 16 Oct-present, London, V&A, 'Sacred Silver gallery', LT Loan
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number