Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Cover of a Censer

mid-12th century
Made in Meuse valley
Copper alloy, cast, engraved, chased, punched, and gilded
Overall: 4 1/8 x 4 1/8 in. (10.5 x 10.5 cm)
Metalwork-Copper alloy
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
The artist who produced this censer proudly inscribed his name, "Godefridus," over one of the arches. The censer bears witness to the technical, artistic, and symbolic sophistication lavished on objects, regardless of size, produced for the service of the medieval church. The architectural form may symbolize the heavenly city of Jerusalem, while the lunettes circling the base depict Old Testament events thought to foretell Christ's sacrifice. Such complicated imagery was standard in art produced in the Valley of the Meuse, an area now part of modern Belgium, in the 12th century.
Inscription: Above, on the arch: GODEFRIDVS FECIT TVRIBVLVN
Godfredus has made the turibulum (censer)

Abel offers a lamb (Genesis 4:4)

Joshua and Caleb carry the grapes (Numbers 13:23)

Moses exalts the serpent (Numbers 21:9)

Melchizedek [carries] the bread and wine (Genesis 14:18; Epistles to Hebrew 7:1-4)
Private Collection, Paris ; [ Sotheby's, London(July 12, 1979, no. 29)]
Musée de Poitiers. Aliénor d'Aquitaine et son Temps. Poitiers, 1976. no. 22, pp. 43-46, ill. p. 76.

Art at Auction: The Year at Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1978–1979. London: Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., 1979. p. 342.

Medieval works of art; Gothic works of art and sculpture; Renaissance bronzes; reference books, caskets, jewellery and Baroque sculpture and bronzes. London: Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., July 12, 1979. no. 29, pp. 12-15.

Kleinbauer, Walter Eugene. "Recent Major Acquisitions of Medieval Art by American Museums." Gesta 19, no. 1 (1980). p. 69, fig. 11.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions, 1979-1980 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1980). p. 21.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Tenth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1979, through June 30, 1980." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 110 (1980). p. 41.

Gousset, Marie-Thérèse. "Un Aspect du Symbolisme des Encensoirs Romans: la Jérusalem Céleste." Cahiers Archéologiques 30 (1982). pp. 87, 99, 103 n. 32-33, 106 n. 107, fig. 11.

Frazer, Margaret English. "Medieval Church Treasuries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 43, no. 3 (Winter 1985-1986). p. 21, fig. 15.

Westermann-Angerhausen, Hiltrud. "Zwei romanische Thuribula im Trierer Domschatz – und Überlegungen zu Theophilus und das Gozbert Rauchfass." Zeitschrift des Deutschen Vereins für Kunstwissenschaft 42, no. 2 (1988). p. 53 n. 26.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 76, pp. 63–64.

McLachlan Elizabeth Parker. "Liturgical Vessels and Implements." In The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, edited by Thomas J. Heffernan, and E. Ann Matter. Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University, 2005. pp. 410-411, fig. 11.

Barnet, Peter, and Pete Dandridge, ed. Lions, Dragons, & Other Beasts: Aquamanilia of the Middle Ages, Vessels for Church and Table. New York: Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, 2006. no. 44, p. 184.

Dandridge, Pete. "Exquisite Objects, Prodigious Technique: Aquamanilia, Vessels of the Middle Ages." In Lions, Dragons, & Other Beasts: Aquamanilia of the Middle Ages, Vessels for Church and Table, edited by Peter Barnet, and Pete Dandridge. New York: Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, 2006. no. 44, p. 51.

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