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Plaque - Plaque of an angel

Plaque of an angel

  • Object:

    Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    Cologne (possibly, made)
    Mosan (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1160-1170 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper-gilt with champlevé enamel, and cloisonné details

  • Museum number:

    6817-1860

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 21

This is one of two similar half-length figures of angels holding texts from the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. The same subject occurs in various other enamels (eg on the Alexander head reliquary from Stavelot (now in Brussels), dated 1145, and on the Mosan-influenced candelabrum at Aachen cathedral).

The plaque (with 6816-1860) was probably originally placed between the arcades on the sides of a shrine. There is a Mosan-Rhenish tradition of such decoration, which flanks the major figures of a shrine with supporting allegorical subject matter (eg the St Albinus shrine, in the Treasury of St. Pantaleon, Cologne (c. 1186), which has spandrel angels, with Virtues and with the doves of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit).

Physical description

Concave copper plaque with a circular top, and curved arcs cut out from the bottom on both sides, to make a point. The upper edge has a beaded edge, above a flat border with an inscription: 'BEATI.MUNDO.CORDE.Q.I.DEV.V'. The angel is shown half-length, with a halo (turquoise and white enamel) and wings (blue, lilac and black enamel, with a gilded border) either side of his head. His face is pale enamel while his hair is dark blue and gold. He wears a blue and black robe and cloak. In his proper left hand, he holds an unidentified object. His proper right hand is raised in front of him, pointing towards his left.
At the bottom of the plaque is a schematic cloud, represented by blue enamel overlapping semi-circles, edged in gold.
The background of the plaque is copper-gilt.
There are four pin-holes spaced along the underside of the inscribed border.

Place of Origin

Cologne (possibly, made)
Mosan (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1160-1170 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Copper-gilt with champlevé enamel, and cloisonné details

Marks and inscriptions

BEATI MUNDO CORDE Q[UONIAM] I[PSI] DEU[M] V[IDEBANT]
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:8

Dimensions

Height: 7.4 cm, Width: 8.8 cm, Depth: 1.2 cm, Weight: 0.1 kg

Historical context note

The half-length figure of an angel holds a text from the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount: 'Blessed are the pure in heart' (Matthew 5:8). The same subject occurs in various other enamels (eg on the Alexander head reliquary from Stavelot (now in Brussels), dated 1145, and on the Mosan-influenced candelabrum at Aachen cathedral.

There are plaques of similar shape and scale (though with a flattened base, rather than a point), showing personifications of Religion and Faith, in the British Museum (M&LA 78, 11-1, 15-16). They also differ in the detail of their beaded upper border. They are catalogued in Stratford 1993 as being Mosan, c. 1160-70. Falke 1904 also refers to a similar angel plaque in the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum, but gives no further details.

The plaque (with 6816-1860) was probably originally placed between the arcades on the sides of a shrine. There is a Mosan-Rhenish tradition of such decoration, which flanks the major figures of a shrine with supporting allegorical subject matter. There are two main types of spandrel plaques on the surviving shrines. Either they act as a subordinate background between separately-cast half-length figures (eg St Anno shrine, at Siegburg (c.1183). Or they can be figured enamels of this type (eg the St Albinus shrine, in the Treasury of St. Pantaleon, Cologne (perhaps dating to c. 1186) (Ornamenta Ecclesia 1972, cat. no. E80). This shrine has spandrel angels, with Virtues and with the doves of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The plaques with doves illustrated in this catalogue have similar upper borders, with inscriptions, and go down to points at the bottom in the same way as the V&A plaques.

Descriptive line

Concave copper plaque depicting a half length angel.

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

Campbell, Marian, An Introduction to Medieval Enamels, London: HMSO, 1983, p. 23, pl. 16
N. Stratford, Catalogue of Medieval Enamels in the British Museum, II, Northern Romanesque Enamel, London, 1993, plate 79, and cat. nos. 11-12
Ornamenta Ecclesiae: Kunst und Künstler der Romanik in Köln, vol. II, Cologne, 1985, cat. nos. E79, pp.296-302, and E80, pp.301-3.
N. Morgan, 'The Iconography of twelfth century Mosan enamels', Rhein und Maas: Kunst und Kultur 800-1400, vol. II, Schnutgen-Museum, Cologne, 1973, p.270 and note 167.
Falke, Otto von, Deutsche schmelzarbeiten des mittelalters, Frankfurt am Main, 1904, p.78

Production Note

Campbell 1983 describes this plaque (and 6817-1860) as being Rhenish (?Cologne) under Mosan influence, and possibly indicating the stylistic influence of the workshop that produced the Shrine of St Maurinus, in St. Pantaleon, Cologne (Ornamenta Ecclesiae, cat. no. E79). This shrine is catalogued in Ornamenta Ecclesiae as being made in Cologne, in about 1170.
The closely comparable plaques in the British Museum are described in Stratford 1993 as Mosan, about 1160-70.

Materials

Copper-gilt; Enamel

Techniques

Champlevé; Cloisonné

Subjects depicted

Angel

Categories

Enamels

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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