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Home > Auctions > 25th February 2016 > Medieval Gilt Altar Patriarchal Cross

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LOT 1230

GBP (£) 15,000 - 20,000
EUR (€) 17,760 - 23,680
USD ($) 19,150 - 25,530

14 1/2" (220 grams, 37cm).

An altar patriarchal or processional cross with replaced wooden core, gilt-bronze plaques to both broad faces with engraved imagery; the cross of 'patriarchal' type with a second, shorter crossbar above the main one; the obverse with three applied bronze panels, the lower depicting one of the four evangelists on a field of tremolier hatching and an octofoil above, the second forming the two crossbars with T-shaped ends, tremolier hatching, two octofoils and evangelists to the ends of the arms, one supporting his head on his hand and the other in a long robe holding a book(?); a bird in flight descending on the main shaft above the location of the Corpus Christi (absent) representing the Holy Spirit, and an agnus dei with a cross to its back between triskeles and octofoils; above, a reserved starburst and the fourth evangelist standing facing on a tremolier field; to the arms, two hands pinned in place from the Corpus Christi figure, broken at the wrists; to the reverse, seven plaques of tremolier hatching with reserved triskeles and rosettes; later bulb and socket below; Eastern European workmanship.

Property of a European businessman; acquired in 2007, previously in an important UK collection of Christian artefacts dating back to the 1970s. Supplied with a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

See Robinson, J. Masterpieces of Medieval Art, London, 2008, p.66 for a discussion of the significance of elaborate crosses in liturgical rites; cf. Zarnecki, G., Holt, J. & Holland, T. English Romanesque Art 1066-1200, London, 1984, item 229 (the Lundø crucifix).

The cross probably dates to the later 11th or early 12th century and is of Continental workmanship. The T-shaped square arms are found on the Lundø crucifix (Anglo-Saxon mid-11th century). If it were from the mid-12th century or later and of English, Norman or French origin it would be expected to be decorated with polychrome enamel in the 'Limoges' decorative tradition. The patriarchal cross appears in the arms of Hungary and Slovakia under the influence of the Eastern Orthodox church and the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century AD.