Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 84, The Whiteley Galleries

Chalice

ca. 1700-1730 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The chalice is one of the most important vessels of the Catholic church. It contains the wine consecrated by the priest during the service of Mass. In Catholic belief the wine miraculously transforms into the blood of Christ during this service, so chalices were usually made from precious metals, to reflect the precious status of their contents.

This example was made about 1700-1730 in Rome, the seat of the Papacy, and reflects a contemporary taste for richly decorated church silver. The ornament consists mostly of scrolls in high relief, with winged cherub heads on the bowl and Instruments of the Passion (objects associated with Christ's Crucifixion) on the base.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver-gilt, chased
Brief Description
Silver-gilt, Rome ca.1700-30
Physical Description
Silver-gilt chalice, the base, stem and lower part of the bowl elaborately decorated with scrolls in high relief, and with winged cherub heads on the bowl and Instruments of the Passion (objects associated with Christ's crucifixion) on the base.
Dimensions
  • Height: 23.3cm
  • Foot diameter: 14.3cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • town mark for Rome on bowl
Gallery Label
Chalice A chalice was used during the Mass to serve the consecrated wine. This example was made in Rome, the seat of the Papacy, and reflects the contemporary taste for richly decorated church silver. The ornament consists mostly of scrolls in high relief, with winged cherub heads on the bowl and the Instruments of the Passion (objects associated with Christ’s suffering and Crucifixion) on the base. Rome, Italy, about 1700–30 Silver gilt Museum no. 162-1866(22/11/2005)
Historical context
The Counter Reformation

The 16th century was a period of intense self examination for the Roman Catholic church. Internal dissent was undermining its authority and whole nations were going over to the new Protestant faiths. To clarify its role, the church held the Council of Trent from 1545 to 1563. It addressed concerns about religious education, abuses of wealth and the relief of the poor. The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) became the champion of the reformed Catholic church and promoted the faith worldwide. At the heart of this Counter Reformation was the need to restore the Eucharist to the centre of worship. In Catholic belief, the Eucharist enshrines the moment when bread and wine, consecrated at the altar, are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. A priest holding up a monstrance Detail from The Adoration of the Holy Eucharist, by Claudio Coello, 1685-90 Monasterio del Escorial, Madrid



Art and Faith

The image and message of the reinvigorated Roman Catholic church were actively promoted through dramatic architecture and furnishings. Throughout the 17th century new churches were built in the grand Baroque style. Their sumptuous interiors were complemented by elaborate monstrances, candelabra, sanctuary lamps and censers. Awe-inspiring altar silver drew the eyes of the faithful towards the Eucharist.
Summary
The chalice is one of the most important vessels of the Catholic church. It contains the wine consecrated by the priest during the service of Mass. In Catholic belief the wine miraculously transforms into the blood of Christ during this service, so chalices were usually made from precious metals, to reflect the precious status of their contents.



This example was made about 1700-1730 in Rome, the seat of the Papacy, and reflects a contemporary taste for richly decorated church silver. The ornament consists mostly of scrolls in high relief, with winged cherub heads on the bowl and Instruments of the Passion (objects associated with Christ's Crucifixion) on the base.
Collection
Accession Number
162-1866

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record createdDecember 6, 2004
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