Reliquary Triptych with the Crucifixion, Coronation of the Virgin, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and the Annunciation

English or French (Paris)
Medieval (Gothic)
early 14th century


Object Place: Europe, Paris or England

Dimensions

Overall (closed): 6.9 x 3.2 cm (2 11/16 x 1 1/4 in.) Overall (open): 6.9 x 6.2 cm (2 11/16 x 2 7/16 in.)

Accession Number

58.354

Medium or Technique

Basse-taille and champlevé enamel and gilding on silver

On View

I. W. Colburn Chapel Gallery (Gallery 254A)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Enamels

Triptych comprising a central gabled box with crocketed crest, central finial, and two hinged wings. When closed, the wings (enameled on both sides) are held together with a clasp. The sides of the box, made of a single strip, bent and joined at the top, have two rows of small crosses separated by a silver band. Enamel colors are translucent green, mauve, amber lapis blue, light turquoise, and opaque red. The amber glass is placed over gold foil. The Crucifixion on the inside of the box is composed of cast silver figures (a Crucified Christ, the Virgin, and Saint John) riveted to a blue champlevé enameled ground, with a lozenge-and-rosette design in reserve and halos for the figures in red enamel. The Crucifixion is framed by horizontal strips of silver, the lower of which forms a receptacle for a relic. There is a hinge for a cover. When open, the wings show Saints Peter (right) and Paul (left) with their backs to the Crucifixion, framed by applied cusped, trefoil arches. The closed wings show the Annunciation with Gabriel (on the right shutter) holding a book. Both figures are placed under trefoil arches above which are red spandrels with small Vs in reserve, a band of green enamel with a row of reserved dots arranged in squares, and sprays of green foliage. The back represents the Coronation of the Virgin with Christ (holding an orb with a cross) and the Virgin seated on a backless throne. Christ blesses his mother while an angel, emerging from a cloud below the right trefoil, crowns the Virgin. The dotted diaper grounds are lapis blue. The heads, hands, and attributes are left in reserve with the details engraved and filled with lapis-blue. The figures wear either mauve tunics with green mantles or green tunics with mauve mantles. All the mantles are lined with amber. Peter and Paul have green halos; others are red.

Provenance

Rothschild family, Paris; by descent to Baron Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild (b. 1843 - d. 1940), Frankfurt [see note 1]; about 1949/1950, probably sold by the heirs of Goldschmidt-Rothschild to Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York [see note 1]; 1958, sold by Rosenberg and Stiebel to the MFA for $5,000. (Accession Date: April 10, 1958)

NOTES:
[1] In November 1938 Nazi authorities forced Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild to sell his art collection to the city of Frankfurt. Upon his death in 1940, the objects were transferred to and accessioned by various city museums. After the war, his heirs succeeded in legally voiding the 1938 sale and recuperating the collection, which was sent to the United States. See "Important French Furniture & Objets d'Art," Goldschmidt-Rothschild estate sale, part one, Parke-Bernet, New York, March 10-11, 1950, prefatory note.

[2] Rosenberg and Stiebel sold a number of works of art for members of the Rothschild family at this time.

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour