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Saint-Denis Crystal

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1855,0305.1

  • Title (object)

    • Saint-Denis Crystal
  • Description

    Intaglio of rock crystal: massive, oval, convex on one side, flat on the other. On the flat surface is engraved the Crucifixion between the Virgin and St John; Christ has the cruciferous nimbus and wears a loin-cloth, his head is inclined; cross is plain, without titulus, serpent coiled round its foot; Virgin and St John stand bending forward, raising their mantles to their faces in attitudes of grief; above cross are two medallions containing busts of the sun and moon holding torches, former radiate and wearing chlamys, latter as female figure in mantle with head surmounted by crescent; in modern metal mount; each side of crystal with cylindrical drill-hole.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 846-869 (?)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 155 millimetres
    • Width: 110 millimetres
    • Depth: 45 millimetres
    • Weight: 1081.3 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Text from Dalton 1915, Catalogue of Engraved Gems:
    In a modern metal mount.
    On each side-edge a cylindrical hole has been made with a tubular drill for a distance of about a quarter of an inch.
    E. Babelon, Histoire de la gravure sur gemmes en France, p. 30, and pl. iii, fig. 4.
    The figure of Our Lord in this crystal is as unfinished as the head is successful.

    Supplementary information to Dalton 1915:
    See Comte Blaise de Montesquiou-Fezensac in Antiq. journ. XXXIV (1954), p. 32.

    B.M. Ager, 28 June 2010:-

    See also Lasko 1972, pl. 56; B. de Montesquiou-Fezensac & D. Gaborit-Chopin, 1977, "Le Trésor de Saint-Denis", Paris, 114-5, pl. 99; G. Kornbluth, 1995, "Engraved Gems of the Carolingian Empire", Pennsylvania State University Press, no. 18.
    After the Revolution the crystal was sold at auction in France in 1798, but the name of the purchaser is unknown. Thomas Windus exhibited the crystal to the Society of Antiquaries on 5 December 1839 (SoA Minutes, vol. 37 and the Gentleman's Magazine, n.s., vol. 13, Jan-June 1840, p. 73). It was bought by John Webb for £21.0.0d at the sale of T. Windus by Christie & Manson, Tues February 27 - 1 March, 1855, lot 187 (the reference in the sale catalogue to Dibdin's 'Tour', vol. IV, p. 350 [probably to a parallel for the sun and moon motifs] appears to be wrong and to relate rather to vol. III, pl. opp. p. 459).

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  • Bibliography

    • Dalton 1915 561 bibliographic details
    • Marzinzik 2013 98 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc3/sC

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2005 27 Oct-2006 31 Jan, Haengso Museum, Keimyung University, Daegu, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2005 25 Jul-8 Oct, Busan Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2005 11 Apr-10 Jul, Seoul Arts Centre, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    1996 31 Aug-17 Nov, Netherlands, Utrecht, Museum Catharijneconvent, The Utrecht Psalter
    1991 12 Mar-17 Jun, France, Paris, Musee du Louvre, Le Tresor de Saint-Denis
    1981 31 Mar-31 May, USA, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art - The Cloisters, The Royal Abbey of St Denis in the Time of Abbott Suger (1122-1151)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1855

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1855,0305.1

  • Additional IDs

    • OA.3066
Intaglio; crystal; massive, oval, convex on one side, flat on the other; on flat surface is engraved the Crucifixion between the Virgin and St John; Christ has the cruciferous nimbus and wears a loin-cloth, his head is inclined; cross is plain, without tutulus, serpent coiled round its foot; Virgin and St John stand bending forward, raising their mantles to their faces in attitudes of grief; above cross are two medallions containing busts of the sun and moon holding torches, former radiate and wearing chlamys, latter as female figure in mantle with head surmounted by crescent; in modern metal mount; each side of crystal with cylindrical drill-hole.

Intaglio; crystal; massive, oval, convex on one side, flat on the other; on flat surface is engraved the Crucifixion between the Virgin and St John; Christ has the cruciferous nimbus and wears a loin-cloth, his head is inclined; cross is plain, without tutulus, serpent coiled round its foot; Virgin and St John stand bending forward, raising their mantles to their faces in attitudes of grief; above cross are two medallions containing busts of the sun and moon holding torches, former radiate and wearing chlamys, latter as female figure in mantle with head surmounted by crescent; in modern metal mount; each side of crystal with cylindrical drill-hole.

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