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Crozier

  • Place of origin:

    Limoges (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    13th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper with remains of champlevé enamel

  • Museum number:

    703-1884

  • Gallery location:

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

A crozier is the staff carried by a bishop as a sign of office along with the pectoral cross, ring and mitre. It is based upon a shepherd's crook, indicating that the bishop is the shepherd of his congregation.
This thirteenth century French crozier would originally have been decorated with bright enamels. The figures of the angel and the dragon in the centre represent St Michael the archangel battling the devil. In Christian iconography, the devil is often shown as a serpent or a dragon.

Physical description

Copper with remains of champlevé enamel (Limoges), the volute in the form of a curved dragon enclosing an angel (St Michael) piercing a dragon with a spear. Knop ornamented with eight dragons, ferrule decorated with a further three dragons.

Place of Origin

Limoges (possibly, made)

Date

13th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Copper with remains of champlevé enamel

Marks and inscriptions

Unmarked

Dimensions

Height: 31.75 cm, Width: 12.7 cm

Object history note

Bought at the Castellani sale, 1884.

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

Crozier head, the volute in the form of a curved dragon enclosing an angel, copper with remains of enamel, France, 13th century

Labels and date

Crosier with a Figure of St Michael
A crosier is the staff carried by a bishop as a sign of office, along with the pectoral cross, ring and mitre. It is based upon a shepherd's crook, indicating that the bishop is the shepherd of his congregation.

This medieval French crosier would originally have been decorated with bright enamels. The figures of the angel and the dragon in the centre represent St Michael, the archangel, battling the devil. In Christian iconography, the devil is often shown as a serpent or a dragon.

Limoges, France, 1200-30
Copper with traces of enamel
Museum no. 703-1884 [22/11/2005]

Materials

Copper; Enamel

Techniques

Enamelling

Subjects depicted

Saints; Dragon; Angels

Categories

Metalwork; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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