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John N. Lupia

Type of ewer, usually of metal, used for the washing of hands in a liturgical or domestic context. It is often zoomorphic in form and usually has two openings, one for filling with water and the other for pouring. In their original usage aquamanilia expressed the symbolic significance of the lavabo, the ritual washing of the hands by the priest before vesting, before the consecration of the Eucharist and after mass. The earliest production of aquamanilia is associated with Mosan art of the Meuse Valley in northern France, and with Lower Saxony in north-east Germany. The majority of surviving examples are made of a variety of bronze that resembles gold when polished, while nearly all those made of precious metals are known only from church inventories.

Church documents refer to aquamanilia as early as the 5th century, when canon regulations stipulated that on ordination the subdeacon should receive such a vessel. Various documents from the 5th century to the beginning of the 11th sometimes use the term to denote both the ewer and its basin. Sometime after the beginning of the 11th century the term became transferred to a type of vessel, usually in the shape of an animal (e.g. lion, stag, horse; ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(fl 1518–66).

Sicilian goldsmith. His early work is Gothic, notably a magnificent processional monstrance with Gothic spires (1536–8; Enna, Mus. Alessi) and a reliquary of S Agata (1532; Palermo Cathedral). From the 1540s he adopted a Renaissance style, as exemplified by a crozier (Palermo, Gal. Reg. Sicilia) and a reliquary of S Cristina (Palermo Cathedral)....

Article

John Williams

Spanish silver reliquary (813×330×445 mm; León, Mus.–Bib. Real Colegiata S Isidoro) made for the relics of St Isidore, which arrived from Seville in December of 1063 as a result of King Ferdinand I’s subjection of the Muslim city. They were placed in a wooden chest covered with silver gilt and lined with silk fabrics of Islamic origin and deposited in the Treasury of S Isidoro, León. No previous Hispanic shrine of comparable size, technique, or iconography is known. In 1808 this shrine and one from the 12th century that had enclosed it were damaged during the Napoleonic occupation of S Isidoro; the reliquary was restored in 1847.

Around the sides are five repoussée panels illustrating, in a disrupted order stemming from the restoration, episodes from the Book of Genesis, three of them with their original inscriptions: the Creation of Adam (hic format[ur] ada[m] et inspirat[ur] a d[e]o); the Temptation of Adam...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

William M. Voelkle

Portable altar–reliquary (New York, Morgan Lib.), made c. 1156 for the Stavelot Abbey in the Ardennes, Belgium and decorated with both Mosan and Byzantine enamels (see fig.). The reliquary is named after the Benedictine abbey headed by Wibald of Stavelot, its enlightened abbot from 1130 to 1158. It is the first of a series of Mosan reliquary triptychs containing portions of the True Cross. Of these, only the Stavelot Triptych contains scenes from the life of Constantine and the legend of the finding of the True Cross by Empress Helena, his mother. Although two commissions by Wibald are documented (the St Remaclus Retable, destroyed during the French Revolution, and the Head Reliquary of Pope Alexander of 1145; Brussels, Musées Royaux A. & Hist.), the Stavelot Triptych is not. Wibald may have been given both the cross relic and the two small Byzantine enamel triptychs displayed on the centre panel of the Stavelot Triptych during his diplomatic mission (...