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  • Place of origin:

    Avila (City) (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1470-1490 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 69, The Whiteley Galleries, case 19

The chalice is the central sacred vessel of the Catholic church, in which the priest consecrates wine during the service of Mass. This chalice would have been originally accompanied by a paten (dish) for the consecrated bread. According to Catholic belief the wine and bread are miraculously transformed into the blood and body of Christ during the Mass. The bowls of silver chalices are usually gilded inside, to emphasize the precious nature of their contents and to protect the metal. This late medieval example is decorated with depictions of St John the Baptist, St James, the instruments of the Passion (tools associated with Christ's Crucifixion), and heraldic insignia.

Before coming to the Museum this chalice was in the private collection of J.C. Robinson, the first curator of art at the V&A, who shifted the focus of the Museum collections away from its original enthusiasm for good examples of modern design, towards historic works of art which should inspire modern manufactures. In his 15 years at the Museum, Robinson created the first public collection of medieval and Renaissance decorative art in Britain.

Physical description

Chalice with plain bowl clasped by calyx and repousse scallop shells and supported on hexagonal stem, pierced with window tracery flanked by buttresses, bossed stem, with broad foot divided into 12 rays, figures.

Place of Origin

Avila (City) (probably, made)


ca. 1470-1490 (made)



Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions


Unmarked although register states from Avila


Diameter: 18.7 cm foot, Height: 24.3 cm

Object history note

From JC Robinson Collection

Depictions on chalice represent St John the Baptist, St James (St James of Santiago, St James at Clavijo - see Hall’s Dictionary of Symbols etc, p. 166), the instruments of the Passion, and heraldic insignia
TS: it has three coats of arms - much research is required on the imagery

Descriptive line

Spain, Avila, 15th century; Church plate, Continental

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

The Golden Age of Hispanic Silver 1400-1665, Charles Oman, Pg. 27, pl. 38, HMSO, 1968

Labels and date

Silver Gallery:
This spectacular Gothic chalice was in JC Robinson's private collection. Robinson was a dealer as well as a curator. Henry Cole complained that "whilst travelling at the public expense he had sometimes purchased works of art for himself and his friends". This did mean however that Robinson was close to the market. [26/11/2002]
Silver gilt
Spanish (Gothic work), from Avila; about 1470-90 []
Spanish (Avila); about 1490-1500
Bought from John Charles Robinson
This chalice is embossed with the coats of arms of the Dukes of Avila, and was probably a gift of Pedro Davila, lord of Villafranca and Las Navas for the now roofless church of S. Francesco, Avila. []

Production Note

Maker unidentified


Silver; Gold


Metalwork; Christianity


Metalwork Collection

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