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Tip of a Pointer

Date:
1080–1150
Geography:
Made in Constantinople
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Cloisonné enamel, gold
Dimensions:
Overall: 1 x 1/2 in. (2.5 x 1.3 cm)
Classification:
Enamels-Cloisonné
Credit Line:
Purchase, Louis V. Bell Fund and Henry G. Keasbey Bequest, 1997
Accession Number:
1997.235
  • Description

    This delicately wrought and finely detailed tip of a pointer, or, less likely, a scepter, is one of the outstanding examples of cloisonné enameling produced during the Middle Byzantine era. Intimate in scale, it is entirely covered in elaborate foliate and geometric designs predominately worked in white, red, and translucent blue enamels. Ladderlike strips of cloisons in translucent green enamel separate the decorative patterns on the sides and hide the angles of the hexagonal form. The top is a flat dome; the base is finished with alternating lobes and semicircles. The enameled patterns are similar to designs found in Byzantine manuscript illuminations of the period. This tiny masterpiece was probably the end of a long pointer used to assist the speaker during the public reading of a manuscript.

    The refinement of the decoration and the outstanding craftsmanship suggest that this is one of a small group of works associated with the imperial capital of Constantinople and possibly made for the royal court.

  • Provenance

    ; Adolphe Stoclet (1871–1949), Brussels; Mme. Feron-Stoclet, Brussels (by 1956); Private Collection, Switzerland (by 1997); [ Brimo de Laroussilhe, Paris (sold 1997)]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
466296

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