Hildesheim Portable Altar thumbnail 1
Hildesheim Portable Altar thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery

Hildesheim Portable Altar

Altar
ca. 1160-1170 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The altar has long been thought to have been made for Cathedral of Hildesheim since St Godehard, Bishop of Hildesheim appears promminently. Hildesheim in Lower Saxony was a crucially important centre of medieval ecclesiastical patronage in an area renowned particularly for its metalworking skill. The cathedral and its treasury remain one of the great manifestations of the medieval arts in Europe.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Porphyry, framed in wood, with plates of gilt copper and partially gilded, embellished with vernis brun.
Brief Description
Gilt copper on wood, and porphyry, Germany. 12th century.
Physical Description
A portable consecrated tablet for use as an altar. An oblong slab of porphyry, framed in wood and covered, wholly on one side and partially on the other, with plates of gilt copper; engraved on both sides. The gilt copper plaque around the edge of the top face shows twelve saints, Mary and the following scenes from the life of Christ: the Nativity, the Crucifixion, the three Maries at the Sepulchre, the Ascension and Christ in Majesty. Amongst the saints represented the most noteable is Bishop Godehard of Hildesheim.



The base of the altar shows the Trinity, with saints St Boniface, St Pancras, St Peter, St Paul and at the base of the cross St Simplicius and St Faustinus.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.7cm
  • Width: 38.5cm
  • Depth: 22.9cm
  • Weight: 3.6kg
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Marks and Inscriptions
C(ON)TINENTUR. HIC. EORUM. RELIQIE. QUORUM, IMAGINES. SVP. L(apidem). INFRA. SCULPTE. ST. ET S EORUM. LAURENTII. KYLIANI. GEORGII. OSWALDI. SEBASTIANI. MARURITII, THEBEORUM. MARTYRM. DIONISII. GREGORII. NICOLAI. MARTINI. LUCIE TE CLE XI MILIA. Virgines (The inscriptions allude to the numerous saints' relics within the altar.)
Historical context
The altar has long been thought to have been made for Cathedral of Hildesheim since St Godehard, Bishop of Hildesheim appears promminently. Hildesheim in Lower Saxony was a crucially important centre of medieval ecclesiastical patronage in an area renowned particularly for its metalworking skill. The cathedral and its treasury remain one of the great manifestations of the medieval arts in Europe.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The altar has long been thought to have been made for Cathedral of Hildesheim since St Godehard, Bishop of Hildesheim appears promminently. Hildesheim in Lower Saxony was a crucially important centre of medieval ecclesiastical patronage in an area renowned particularly for its metalworking skill. The cathedral and its treasury remain one of the great manifestations of the medieval arts in Europe.
Bibliographic References
  • Williamson, P. ed. The Medieval Treasury (V&A Publications,1986) pp114,115
  • Algermissen, K. Bernward und Godehard von Hildesheim: ihr Leben und Werk (Hildesheim August Lax, 1960)
Collection
Accession Number
10-1873

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record createdAugust 12, 2005
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