Censer

Syria-Palestine
Byzantine
7th century (?)


Object Place: Middle East, Syria

Dimensions

7.2 x 7.8 cm (2 13/16 x 3 1/16 in.)

Accession Number

65.9

Medium or Technique

Leaded latten (81.7% copper, 7.9% lead, 5.8% tin, 4.6% zinc)

Not On View

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Metalwork

Bowl with a splayed foot (17 mm. high) and four projections on the rim, one with a hole for suspension. Cast in one piece, chased and punched. Around the body are five scenes from the life of Christ, beginning with the Annunciation. Mary is seated frontally with one hand on her chin and with a distaff in her other hand. The winged angel, who approaches from the right, extends his arm to her and holds a staff upright in his other hand. The Nativity shows the child in a crib supported by two columns; above are the debased heads of an ox and ass on either side and a star in the middle. Joseph sits in three-quarter view, one hand supporting his chin, facing Mary, who reclines with one arm raised. The Baptism, flanked by very debased trees, depicts an abbreviated figure of Christ standing in the water below a dove that descends from rays in the sky. John the Baptist, on the left, places his right hand on Christ’s head, his outstretched arm cast completely in the round. The dove consists only of a series of lines; an angel holds a cloth at the right. The Crucifixion shows Christ in a colobium with mourning figures of Mary and John standing below the cross; above are images of Sol and Luna. The final scene represents a Woman at the Tomb; Mary, carrying a censer, stands at the right facing an angel. The freestanding tomb has an entrance flanked by columns and a sloped roof with a trefoil finial. Within a circular recess on the underside of the foot is an enthroned Virgin and Child in low relief. A stylized scroll is chased and punched on the cylindrical neck. On the rim of the underside of the foot and again just above the foot is chased a chevron pattern of double lines and punched dots. The inside of the bowl is rough with shallow indentations corresponding to the relief and the foot.

Provenance

By 1964, Blumka Gallery, New York; 1965, sold by Blumka Gallery to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 13, 1965)

Credit Line

Frederick Brown Fund