Pendant Brooch with Cameo of Enthroned Virgin and Child and Christ Pantokrator

late 11th–12th century, mount 12th–14th century
Chalcedony cameo; gold mount with pearls, emeralds, garnets, sapphires, and a sardonyx intaglio
Overall: 2 13/16 x 2 3/16 x 5/8 in. (7.2 x 5.5 x 1.6 cm) Chalcedony: 1 1/2 x 1 1/4 in. (3.8 x 3.2 cm)
Lapidary Work-Chalcedony
Credit Line:
Purchase, Acquisitions Fund, Christopher C. Grisanti and Suzanne P. Fawbush, Austin B. Chinn, and Katharine R. Brown Gifts, Gifts of Marx Freres, J. Pierpont Morgan, and Mrs. Frank D. Millett, by exchange, and funds from various donors, 2007
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This elegantly wrought pendant brooch displays a finely carved blue Byzantine cameo in a bejeweled gold frame. Carved gems produced in the Byzantine Empire were valued throughout the medieval world as diplomatic and religious gifts and as trade goods. This example displays the Virgin and Child enthroned and flanked by busts of two archangels, a miniature version of the decoration of the apse in many Byzantine churches. The frame, with pearls and gemstones on the face and a repoussé image of Christ holding his gospels and raising his right hand in a blessing gesture on the reverse, is similar to frames now in the Kremlin in Moscow that are dated to between the twelfth and the fourteenth century and attributed to Rus', the large region north of the imperial territories that in 988, under Vladimir the Great of Kiev, became a Christian state allied with Constantinople. The cameo was probably sent to Rus', where the frame was made to appropriately house the rare object from the capital. The size and decoration of the pendant suggest that it may have been made for a ranking prelate of the Orthodox Church. The whole is an outstanding manifestation of the complex artistic relationships within the Byzantine sphere.

  • Provenance

    Gomez Family, Switzerland; Jennifer Gomez, Berne and London (from 1968); [ Ward & Company Works of Art(sold 2007)]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History