NOTE: We have continued to research for more information regarding this reliquary chest and recently spoke with an associate of the late doctor who collected it. It was the associates understanding and belief that the chest had been purchased through Blumka Gallery in New York, a prestigious firm which for many years has dealt with medieval, Renaissance and Baroque works of Art. According to the associate, it was his understanding that someone known to the doctor purchased the reliquary chest in the 1980’s from Blumka and since that time the doctor had continually attempted to purchase the chest from the original owner. It was not until a short while ago (prior to the doctor’s death) that he was able to acquire it and it was in his vault at the time we removed the contents of the estate. We have no receipt; we have no paperwork or proof of this statement only verbal input from an associate of the late owner.
RARE AND IMPORTANT 13th CENTURY LIMOGES GILT-COPPER AND POLYCHROME ENAMEL RECTANGULAR RELIQUARY CHASSE. The front of the reliquary having six enameled poupees. The engraved and gilt decorated background set with various colored round and oval glass, also inserts having enameled colors of white, turquoise and medium lapis blue. The inset eyes are blue lapis colored beads. The edge of the chasse applied with narrow white enamel and gilt copper trim affixed with small cast nails. The background having an engraved, stippled and four-petal flower decoration. The back of the chasse having a bottom hinged door with lock present (no key). The back decoration in rows of squared alternating four-petal flowers in champleve enamel of dark lapis, sky blue, turquoise, green, yellow, wine red and white. The chasse on four squared high legs. The top crest having pierced work with three ball finials (middle ball missing). The ends in champleve of lapis with a standing gilt and engraved Figure of Saint with enameled sky blue and white halo. The core of the chasse of ancient wood (probably oak) and having hand forged iron hinges and lock mechanism. Beginning in the 12th century, Limoges became the premier center of production of polychrome enamels. Originally art forms with Limoges enamel were reserved for liturgical works of art. These reliquary containers (or in French, chasses) were sacred repositories for the holiest of objects, often the physical remains such as saint’s bones, pieces of cloth, etc. They were usually modeled in the form of a church with a pitched roof such as this one. Very few of these rare treasures survive in private hands. Today most that have been removed from churches through the ages now reside in museum collections. This represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire one of these genuine treasures.REFERENCE: For a 13th century example with similar applied poupee see Enamels of Limoges 1100-1350, the Metropolitan Museum of Art page 327. SIZE: 9-3/4″ h x 3-1/2″ d (including projected heads). 3″ across side. 8-3/4″ across crest. 8-1/4″ across base. PROVENANCE: From a doctor’s estate. An old time collection from Kentucky. CONDITION: Shows consistent wear for age, some jewels cracked with one having small, loss all are worn, enamel generally in very good condition with scattered losses dispersed over the surface, gilt worn all over. 9-92284 (50,000-150,000)Click here to view rotating image
Auction: Fine Art, Antiques & Asian - Winter 2014
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.