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Pyx and case

Pyx and case

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Poussielgue-Rusand (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver gilt, enamelled and gem-set

  • Museum number:

    M.28-1983

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 4B []

A pyx (from the Greek for ‘box’) was used in Roman Catholic worship to contain the Sacred Host, the consecrated bread or wafer used in the Mass, or to take it to the bedside of the sick. This example fits into a leather case so that it can be worn around the neck.

The firm of Poussielgue-Rusand began manufacturing church furnishings in various metals in the 1840s. It became one of the most illustrious in 19th-century France and supplied churches all over the country. Viollet-le-Duc, one of the leading authorities on Gothic building and design, was one of many architects associated with the firm.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

ca. 1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Poussielgue-Rusand (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver gilt, enamelled and gem-set

Marks and inscriptions

Mark of Poussielgue-Rusand, Paris

Dimensions

Height: 12.8 cm

Object history note

Acquisition RF: 83/542
This portable pyx fits into a leather case so that it can be worn around the neck. (Leather case now in SS, 10, 12)

Historical context note

The Gothic Revival
In the Victorian period a dramatic and profound change took place in religious life. Centred on a renewed interest in the Middle Ages, it affected the appearance of churches and how services were conducted. The influential architect A.W.N. Pugin promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. Although Pugin was Catholic, his theory appealed to Anglicans of the Oxford Movement - radicals who hoped to restore pre-Reformation services to the Church of England.

The Cambridge Camden Society, founded in 1839, studied the past to identify the medieval architecture and furnishings that would be appropriate for the revived services. The society became an arbiter of style, offering an Anglicised version of the Gothic. By the 1870s some of the equipment normally found in Catholic worship, such as the ciborium, was appearing in Anglican churches.

It was not universally welcomed. Some observers found the incense, the altar cross and the emphasis on ritual scandalously 'Popish' or 'high church'.

The Gothic Revival in Europe
The Gothic revival in Europe owed more to nationalism than religious zeal. The completion of Cologne's medieval cathedral was an affirmation of German culture. In the Habsburg empire, Czechs and Hungarians similarly expressed national pride through Gothic architecture.

Champions of the Gothic claimed by the 1850s that the style was triumphant in Europe. But classical architecture remained a serious rival, even in church building. Much of the most important Gothic work was in church restoration. In Germany and France, goldsmiths like Franz Xaver Hellner supplied Gothic church furnishings.

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

Campbell, Marian. 'Imitation et création: la redécouverte de l'émail champlevé limousin au XIXe siècle', In: Danielle Gaborit-Chopin and Élisabeth Taburet-Delahaye, eds. L'OEuvre de Limoges. Art et histoire au temps des Plantagenêts. Actes du colloque organisé au musée du Louvre par le Service culturel les 16 et 17 novembre 1995. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 1998, pp. 49-81. ISBN 2110039744

Labels and date

Portable Pyx with Case

A pyx (from the Greek for 'box') was used in Roman Catholic worship to contain the Sacred Host, the consecrated bread or wafer used in the Mass, or to take it to the bedside of the sick. This example fits into a leather case so that it can be worn around the neck.

The firm of Poussielgue-Rusand began manufacturing church furnishings in various metals in the 1840s. It became one of the most illustrious in 19th-century France and supplied churches all over the country. Viollet-le-Duc, one of the leading authorities on Gothic building and design, was one of many architects associated with the firm.

Paris, France, about 1850; by Placide Poussielgue-
Rusand (1824-89). Silver gilt, with enamel and
semi-precious stones
Museum no. M.28:1-1983 [22/11/2003]

Categories

Metalwork; Christianity; Religion

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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