Pendant Cross thumbnail 1
Pendant Cross thumbnail 2
+3
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Pendant Cross

ca. 1450-1475 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The images decorating the back of this cross were often used as a focus for meditation in the late medieval period. The scenes on the lid show the Instruments of the Passion – scourge, whip, lance, sponge and nails – which were used during the Crucifixion. A tiny fragment of one of them may have formed a relic, stored in the cross's now empty interior. Pearls symbolised purity, and the red gems may have symbolised sacrificial blood shed by Christ.

The jewellery worn in medieval Europe reflected an intensely hierarchical and status-conscious society. Royalty and the nobility wore gold, silver and precious gems. Humbler ranks wore base metals, such as copper or pewter. Colour (provided by precious gems and enamel) and protective power were highly valued.
read A history of jewellery
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver, silver gilt; ruby, sapphire, garnet, pearl
Brief Description
Pendant reliquary cross. Silver, silver gilt, set with ruby, sapphire, garnets and pearls. Germany, ca. 1450-1475
Physical Description
Pendant Reliquary Cross, silver, silver gilt, ruby, sapphire, garnet, pearl. On the obverse high collets are set in corded rings on the centre and on the arms. The rings are set with small beads. The collets contain (left) a ruby, (centre) a sapphire, (right and bottom) garnets added in the nineteenth century. Between the arms are four pearls set on short stems issuing from large round beads. The reverse, of plain silver-gilt consists of a flat plate, pinned in place, under which the relic would have been kept. It is engraved with five roundels depicting the Instruments of the Passion: the three nails, the sponge, the lance, the scourge and a motif which may be the rope.
Dimensions
  • Length: 3.5cm
  • Width: 3.5cm
  • Weight: 18g
Subject depicted
Summary
The images decorating the back of this cross were often used as a focus for meditation in the late medieval period. The scenes on the lid show the Instruments of the Passion – scourge, whip, lance, sponge and nails – which were used during the Crucifixion. A tiny fragment of one of them may have formed a relic, stored in the cross's now empty interior. Pearls symbolised purity, and the red gems may have symbolised sacrificial blood shed by Christ.



The jewellery worn in medieval Europe reflected an intensely hierarchical and status-conscious society. Royalty and the nobility wore gold, silver and precious gems. Humbler ranks wore base metals, such as copper or pewter. Colour (provided by precious gems and enamel) and protective power were highly valued.
Bibliographic References
  • Lightbown, Ronald, Medieval European Jewellery, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992, cat.53, pp.510-511
  • Campbell, Marian, Medieval Jewellery in Europe 1100-1500, London, V&A Publishing, 2009, p.17, fig.11
Collection
Accession Number
4561-1858

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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