Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    Salamanca (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embossed silver

  • Museum number:

    24-1866

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 1

This plaque is part of a set of four showing the Four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) which probably came from a larger object such as a crystal altar cross, now lost. St Mark was the author of one of the Gospels and is often represented as a lion. On this plaque he is shown as a figure writing in a book resting on a lion's head. A winged lion stands for St. Mark because he emphasizes the royal dignity of Christ, and opens his book with John the Baptist roaring like a lion in the wilderness.

The association of the four Evangelists with living creatures comes from the books of Ezekiel and Revelation. In the book of Revelation, St John sees four creatures surrounding the throne of Heaven: "...and round about the throne were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast was like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle."

Physical description

Circular silver plaque embossed with a relief figure of St Mark. A small pin protrudes from the back.

Place of Origin

Salamanca (made)

Date

ca. 1550 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embossed silver

Marks and inscriptions

S.? above an ox
Town mark for Salamanca

Dimensions

Diameter: 3.50 cm, Height: 1.50 cm

Object history note

This set of plaques comes from a larger object, possibly a crystal altar cross.

Historical context note

Saints and Symbols
Like most religions, Christianity has a rich language of images and symbols. This iconography would have been clearly understood in the past but it may be less familiar to modern eyes.

Though often decorative, the symbols used on religious metalwork also refer to the function and significance of the objects. The contemplation of religious motifs can draw believers into a deeper understanding of their faith. Complex theological themes can be represented in a visual form. A chalice, for example, might be adorned with the tools used in the Crucifixion (the 'Instruments of the Passion') to direct the viewer's mind towards Christ's sacrifice and his death on the cross.

The use of images has caused controversy throughout Christian history. While supporters held that imagery glorified God and helped believers understand their faith better, critics attacked its use as superstition and idolatry.

Saints
Christians venerate saints as men and women who, through the holiness of their lives, became especially close to God. The saints include martyrs who suffered and died for their faith as well as great teachers and preachers. Their lives provide an example and inspiration for the faithful. Roman Catholics also believe that saints can intercede on their behalf with God. In Christian iconography, saints are usually depicted with a distinctive object or 'attribute' associated with their martyrdom or works. For example, St Bartholomew, who was skinned alive, holds a flaying knife, and St George is shown with a dragon.

Descriptive line

Silver plaque showing St. Mark, Spain, around 1550.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The Golden Age of Hispanic Silver: 1400-1660, Charles Oman, HMSO, 1968.

Labels and date

Plaques Showing St Mark

This plaque is part of a set showing the four Evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - who wrote the Gospels. It probably came from a larger object such as a crystal altar cross, now lost.

St Mark is shown as a figure writing in a book resting on a lion's head. He is often represented as a lion because his Gospel emphasises the royal dignity of Christ and opens with John the Baptist roaring like a lion in the wilderness.

The association of the four Evangelists with living creatures comes from the books of Ezekiel and Revelation. In Revelation, St John sees four creatures surrounding the throne of heaven: 'and round about the throne were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast was like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.'

Salamanca, Spain, about 1550
Silver
Museum nos. 24-1866 [22/11/2005]

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Embossing

Categories

Metalwork; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.