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Home > Auctions > 24th May 2022 > Byzantine Architectural Reliquary

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LOT 0147

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,330 - 11,660
USD ($) 9,990 - 12,490

£7,200 (EUR 8,397; USD 8,994) (+bp*)

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A copper-alloy chest in the form of a shrine, the walls presented schematically with openwork colonnades; the arched entrance flanked by smaller colonnades, above the entrance a Byzantine-type cross decorated with short incised lines; hemispherical dome supported by four pendentives, each crowned with a small sphere, the dome engraved with lines mimicking the covering of a full-size dome with metal plates; the structure attached to a quadrangular bronze plate; accompanied by an old marble pedestal stand. 4 3/8 x 4 3/8 in. (475 grams, 11.2 x 11.2 cm). Very fine condition.

UK private collection before 2000.
UK art market.
Property of a London gentleman.
Accompanied by an academic report by Prof. Neritan Ceka.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no. 11154-188069.

See Abou-El-Haj, B., The Medieval Cult of Saints: Formations and Transformations, Cambridge, 1994; Bagnoli, M., et al., (eds.), Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, Cleveland, 2010; Speakman, N.C., Treasures of Heaven, The British Museum, London, 2011.

In terms of form, our shrine reliquary belongs to the early types, known in Byzantine Late Antiquity from the specimen presented on the relief of 'Three Martyrs at the Tomb' of the 5th century A.D. from British Museum. A similar reliquary of St. Anastasius the Persian of the 10th century and the reliquary ciborium of St. Demetrius of Salonica, dating to the 11th century, proves that the type had a long life of use in the medieval Byzantine toreutics. The typical form of Byzantine churches with an inscribed cross, covered with domes that rest on pendentives, brings us to the 10-11th centuries, when this type is widely used in the Byzantine Empire. The reliquary shrine becomes a typical form in Gothic art as well, in a relatively small number and made of precious metals, but repeating Gothic style churches, such as Saint Boniface's reliquary at Dokkum Cathedral, Netherlands, or the reliquary of the Virgin from the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Tournai, Belgium.