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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    1650-1700 or 1800-1870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt set with reverse painted glass

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This pendant has been described as a reliquary, and it recalls little sixteenth-century enamelled gold devotional books that hung from the girdles of their owners. The V&A pendant is very similar to an example in the Courtauld Gallery (bequeathed in 1966 by Mark Gambier-Parry; museum no. O.1966.GP.274), both pair the crucifixion with the Lamb of God on the front cover. There is also an example with Old and New Testament iconography in the Walters Art Museum (accession no. 46.1), and two pendants with Old Testament iconography mixed with unidentified images of secular figures have appeared recently on the art market (Artcurial: Liuba & Ernesto Wolf Collection, lots 86 and 87, sold 1 December 2014). The imagery of a similar pendant also in the V&A (M.66-1923) also lacks an obvious devotional focus. These book pendants all have suspension loops at the top and base of the book, which could suggest they were in fact strung on a rosary rather than suspended at the wearer's neck or waist. While the quality of the painting on the glass panels is often high, that of the metal mounts for these panels seems crude by comparison, and the scenes depicted on some of the panels sometimes appear to have been cut down. This suggests they were not originally designed for the rectangular shape of the book which encloses them. None of these hollow books appears designed to hold relics, as these would have obscured the imagery on the reverse painted glass panels set inside. These inconsistencies make it difficult to assign a definite function and date to the pieces.

Physical description

Small silver-gilt case in the shape of a book, set on the front and back with four reverse painted glass plaques, placed back to back with one another. On the front cover, an image of the crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary and St Mary Magdalene standing at either side of the foot of the cross; the plaque placed inside the book, on the back of this one, represents Jesus as a Lamb. The back cover of the book is set with an image of the Christ Child as ruler of the world; the panel set back to back with this one, on the inside, is too damaged to be decipherable. There is a loop attached to the top of the case, and another to the base.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


1650-1700 or 1800-1870 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt set with reverse painted glass


Length: 4.4 cm, Width: 2.9 cm, Depth: 1.3 cm

Object history note

The Museum purchased the pendant in Nuremberg for £4 from Mr A. Picart. It was described as a 'locket or reliquary' when it entered the South Kensington Museum.

Descriptive line

Small silver-gilt case in the form of a book, with religious scenes in reverse painted glass set into the front and back, and on the inside. Probably Germany, the glass plaques possibly 17th c, the metal mounts probably 1800-1870.

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

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington Museum, Acquired During the Year 1872. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1873.
Eswarin, Rudy. Terminology of verre églomisé. Journal of Glass Studies, vol. 21, 1979. pp. 98-101.
Ryser, Frieder, et al. Glanzlichter: die Kunst der Hinterglasmalerei: Schweizerisches Forschungszentrum zur Glasmalerei Romont / Reflets enchanteurs: l'art de la peinture sous verre. Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Musée Suisse du vitrail Romont, 18 June - 5 November 2000 and the Museum in der Burg, Zurich, 26 November - 3 June 2001. Berne: Benteli, 2000. ISBN 3716512273
Lanmon, Dwight P., with David B. Whitehouse. Glass in the Robert Lehman collection. Robert Lehman Collection, 11. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. ISBN 0870996789
Wilson, Timothy and Matthew Winterbottom. Treasures of the Goldsmith's Art. The Michael Wellby Bequest to the Ashmolean Museum. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2015. ISBN: 9781910807019
Tait, Hugh. 'The Girdle-Prayerbook or Tablet. An Important Class of Renaissance Jewellery at the Court of Henry VIII'. Jewellery Studies, vol. 2 (1985), 29-57.
Forrer, R. Silberne Zieranhänger aus der Zeit der Renaissance. Pro Arte, vol. 1/6 (1942), 5-8.
Hahn, Cynthia, with Beatriz Chadour-Sampson. The thing of mine I have loved the best: Meaningful Jewels. London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2018. ISBN 978-0-9971842-6-6
Ebenhöch, Romina and Silke Tammen. 'Wearing Devotional Books. Book-Shaped Miniature Pendants (Fifteenth to Sixteenth Centuries)'. In: Clothing Sacred Scripture. Materiality and Aesthetics in Medieval Book Religions, ed. by David Ganz and Barbara Schellewald. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2018), 171 - 183.


Silver-gilt; Glass

Subjects depicted



Jewellery; Metalwork; Christianity


Metalwork Collection

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