Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Pendant

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1350 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver and silver-gilt, enamelled

  • Museum number:

    358-1864

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 10, case 16

The bones associated with saints and objects associated with Christ are known as relics. In the Middle Ages they were generally believed to have miraculous powers and were greatly venerated. Relics were kept in containers called reliquaries.

This is an example of a personal reliquary, in the form of a pendant tablet. Personal reliquaries were popular in the Middle Ages and were worn by clerics and lay people alike. Relics were believed to have prophylactic (protective) powers and were usually worn close to the body for a more efficient use of that power.

Physical description

Silver-gilt reliquary pendant in the form of a hollow bar-shaped tablet, closed at the top by a plate with a suspension ring attached, and open at the bottom. The relic is held within by a bar running across. The tablet is engraved and enamelled with translucent enamel with the inscription, on one side: '+ RELIQU / IA . SA[NCT]I . LE'; and on the other: 'ONARDI. * / CREMONE*'.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

ca. 1350 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver and silver-gilt, enamelled

Marks and inscriptions

'+RELIQU / IA . SA[NCT]I . LE' / 'ONARDI . * / CREMONE*'.
'Relic of St. Leonard from Cremona'
Inscribed in Latin

Dimensions

Height: 5.2 cm with suspension ring, Width: 1 cm, Depth: 0.6 cm

Object history note

Acquired from Signol, Paris, as North Italian, c.1300. According to Lightbown, this is too early for the technique of transluscent enamel on silver to be used on such an object. He considers a date later in the fourteenth century to be more likely.

Historical significance: Lightbown (see bibiliography) noted that there is no saint or holy man of the name of Leonard from Cremona. In this case the the relic held within the pendant may have been those of St Leonard of Limousin, a 6th century hermit whose popularity spread to Italy. However the cult of Saint Leonard of Noblat is known to have been celebrated in Cremona, where there is a church dedicated to him. It isthus more probably that the pendant refers to a relic from the Church of Saint Leonard in Cremona.

Historical context note

The bones associated with saints and objects associated with Christ are known as relics. In the Middle Ages they were generally believed to have miraculous powers and were greatly venerated. Relics were kept in containers called reliquaries.

This object is an example of a pendant reliquary. Personal reliquaries were popular in the Middle Ages and were worn by clerics and lay people alike. Relics were believed to have prophylactic (protective) powers, and were usually worn close to the body to ensure the most efficient use of that power. Some personal reliquaries enabled relics to be removed, possibly for the purpose of touching or kissing the relic.

Descriptive line

Reliquary pendant, silver-gilt with enamelled inscription, made in Italy, ca. 1350.

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

R. Lighbown, Medieval European Jewellery, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992, cat. 35. p. 502

Materials

Silver; Gold; Enamel

Techniques

Engraving (incising); Gilding; Enamelling

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Religion; Christianity; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.