Chalice

Byzantine
Early Byzantine Period
6th century A.D.


Catalogue Raisonné

Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 051.

Dimensions

Height (max.): 18 cm. (7 1/16 in.); Width (max. at handles): 26.6 cm (10 1/2 in.); Width (bowl): 16 cm (6 5/16 in.)

Accession Number

1971.633

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Europe, The Ancient World

Classifications

Vessels

The cup has ring handles topped by flat plates of lunate form with trapezoidal projections in the line of the handles. An inscribed band between the handles is flanked by a gilded profiled rim (above) and a gilded profiled band below. The body is hemispherical. The high foot consists of a concave, then bulbous stem and a conical support with broad, horizontal flange below. The niello-inlaid inscription (in Greek capital letters) translates: “Sarah prayed and made [this] offering to the First Martyr” (Saint Stephen). Also (each side) is a gilded Christogram composed of a chi and rho (the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek) flanked by alpha and Omega. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, signifying that Christ is the beginning and end of all things.
Areas of the bowl are filled in; foot is straightened and repaired.

Provenance

Said to have been found in Syria. Fouad Alouf (dealer), Beirut, Lebanon [see note]. 1970, said to have been acquired in Switzerland by Robert E. Hecht, Jr., New York; 1971, sold by Robert Hecht to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 8, 1971).

NOTE: Published by Erica Cruikshank Dodd, Byzantine Silver Treasures (Bern: Abegg-Stiftung, 1973), p. 15, fig. 7, and pp. 24-25, where the accompanying paten is said to still be in the collection of Alouf. Both are said to have been found in Syria.

Credit Line

Edward J. and Mary S. Holmes Fund