A Limoges enamel reliquary casket with angels
Polychrome champlevé enamel, engraved, chased and gilt copper. A small narrow "chasse" form reliquary formed from six plaques clamped together at the edges, on tall L-shaped feet. The openwork ridge to the gable with engraved decor. The finials of the gables, the latch, and lock lacking. Minor localised losses to the enamel. H 19, W 12.5, D 8.3 cm.
Collection of Dr. A. List, Magdeburg, auctioned by Hans W. Lange Berlin, March 1939, lot 27. - Private ownership, South Germany.
Vgl. Kat. Enamels of Limoges 1100 - 1350, New York 1996, Nr.83.
In the early 13th century, the design of reliquary caskets in Limoges changed from the previous type with enamel plaques nailed to a wooden corpus to a clamped / soldered construction. One published example of this new architectural type is the reliquary of St. Jacob in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York (from the estate of Benjamin Altman 1913). Barbara Drake Boehm describes this construction as unusual for Limoges: “It represents an early attempt to create a container from a single sheet of copper, scored and bent” (p. 274). The development of this simpler, easier to manufacture form indicates the high demand for the products of these workshops. The use of a standardised design of half-figure angels in circular reserves to the longer sides and gables of the piece and the schematic rendering of the faces and hair also supports this assumption. The shorter sides are decorated with full figures of saints, also in round reserves, which could represent Sts. Peter and Paul.