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Crown

  • Place of origin:

    Spain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper-gilt, pierced, set with enamelled silver bosses, enamelled gold rosettes and glass pastes

  • Museum number:

    145-1882

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 84, The Whiteley Galleries, case 6B

Statues of the Virgin Mary displayed in Roman Catholic churches are often crowned, alluding to her mystical role as the Queen of Heaven. Veneration of the Virgin is central to Catholic worship and the coronation of the Virgin by Jesus Christ was a popular subject in Catholic art of this period.

The crown is made in a style unique to Spanish goldsmiths' work of the period 1580-1610, a style inspired by the restrained architecture of Juan Herrera, who had worked on the Escorial Palace near Madrid for Philip II from about 1570. Metalwork of the period echoed his clean architectural lines, but craftsmen added enamel bosses and coloured pastes or gems for decoration.

Physical description

Copper-gilt crown consisting of a circlet, pierced and set with glass paste stones supporting four curving straps set with glass paste stones, enamelled silver bosses and enamelled gold rossettes. The arched straps (two of which each support two further cross straps) meet at the top where they are surmounted by an orb and cross.

Place of Origin

Spain (made)

Date

ca. 1600 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Copper-gilt, pierced, set with enamelled silver bosses, enamelled gold rosettes and glass pastes

Marks and inscriptions

EN over ZISO in an irregular-shaped punch.
Unidentified maker's mark stuck twice on base

LA VILLA DE AJOFRIN DIO ESTA CORONA I RENOVOSE ANº DE 1647
The town of Ajofrín gave this crown and it was made new again in the year 1647.
Inscription, in Spanish, engraved around the inside of the rim.

Dimensions

Height: 32.5 cm including cross which surmounts the crown, Diameter: 16.5 cm

Historical context note

The Spanish Church
The Catholic church dominated public and private life in Spain. Money and labour were lavished on religious art and images played a central role in daily worship. To ensure that goldsmiths focused on work for the crown and the church, the authorities brought in a series of sumptuary laws that limited the secular display of gems and precious metals.

By 1550 the silver mines in Peru and Mexico were generating enormous wealth for Spain and feeding the traditional taste for massive silver forms. They included the custodia, a towering architectural canopy that was unique to Spain. It was paraded through parishes during the Corpus Christi festival to display the Sacred Host (consecrated bread). The custodia embodied many characteristics of Spanish church plate. It was sculptural, highly visible and richly imaginative in design.

With the Counter Reformation, Spain became a triumphant defender of a revitalised Catholic faith. Silver altar vessels and entire altars, processional crosses, monstrances and sanctuary lamps frequently appeared in goldsmiths’ contracts.

Descriptive line

Silver-gilt set with enamelled silver bosses, enamelled gold rosettes and pastes, Spain (probably Toledo), ca. 1620, unidentified maker's mark 'ENZISO' in an irregular-shaped punch.

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

Oman, Charles. The Golden Age of Hispanic Silver, 1400-1665. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1978.
Fernández, A., R. Munoa and J. Rabasco. Marcas de la Plata española y virreinal. Madrid: Antiqvaria, 1992. ISBN 8486508282

Labels and date

CROWN FOR A STATUE OF THE VIRGIN

Veneration of the Virgin Mary is central to Catholic worship. Statues of the Virgin were often crowned, alluding to her mystical role as Queen of Heaven. This crown is in a style inspired by the restrained architecture of Juan Herrera, who worked on the Escorial Palace, finished in 1584 for Philip II of Spain.

Spain, about 1600, maker's mark EN over B[Z?]ISO
Silver-gilt, set with enamelled silver bosses and paste (crystal) stones
Museum. no. 145-1882 [22/11/2005]

Production Note

Said on acquisition to have come from near Madrid.

Materials

Copper gilt; Silver; Enamel; Pastes; Gold

Techniques

Piercing; Enamelling

Categories

Christianity; Metalwork; Religion

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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