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Cross

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    first quarter of 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze-gilt, enamel

  • Museum number:

    136-1879

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 84, The Whiteley Galleries, case 2

This cross could have stood on the altar or been used in procession. It is decorated with the symbols of the four Evangelists – the eagle of St John, the ox of St Luke, the angel of St Matthew and the lion of St Mark.

Physical description

Arms with crocketed border ending in roundels each filled with the sign of an Evangelist in reserve against a backgroud of blue champleve enamel. Each of the symbols carries a scroll inscribed with the appropriate name in Gothic characters. The Christ is attached to an outlined inner cross engraved with squares. Attached to the stem above the bottom roundel are two sockets for branches. The back is decorated similarly to the front except that the roundels are decorated with single roses.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

first quarter of 16th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Bronze-gilt, enamel

Marks and inscriptions

Inscriptions of the evangelists: "marke", "ion" "luke", "mathew"

Dimensions

Height: 401 mm, Width: 250 mm, Depth: 40 mm

Historical context note

Medieval Worship

Until the 16th century Roman Catholicism was the universal faith of the Western world and Latin was its universal language. The needs of church ritual inspired the production of a range of richly decorated vessels and vestments, crosses and images in the form of altarpieces. Many were made of gold or silver, adorned with enamels or gems, precious materials seen as symbolic of the reverence due to the worship of God. Less wealthy churches used cheaper vessels in copper, brass or pewter.

The celebration of Mass was and remains the most important service of the Roman Catholic liturgy. For this the minimum requirements are an altar, a chalice and missal, the book of texts necessary for the Mass. Holy Communion or Eucharist is that part of the Mass in which the people participate in the sacrifice of Christ, by partaking of his body and blood in the consecrated bread and wine, held in the chalice and paten.

Descriptive line

Altar cross, gilt bronze with enamel, England, ca.1500-25

Labels and date

Altar or Processional Cross

This cross could have stood on the altar or been used in procession. It is decorated with
the symbols of the four Evangelists - the eagle of St John, the ox of St Luke, the angel
of St Matthew and the lion of St Mark.

England, 1500-25
Gilt bronze with enamel
Museum no. 136-1879. J.C. Robinson Collection [27/10/2005]

Materials

Gilt- bronze; Enamel

Techniques

Gilding; Enamelling

Categories

Religion; Christianity; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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