Quatrefoil Plaque with Angels, second quarter of 13th century
Champlevé enamel, copper; Overall 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 1/16 in. (13.4 x 13.4 x 0.2 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.811)
The medieval metalworker's craft was often closely allied to the draftsman's art, a relationship that was particularly strong in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In this work, calligraphic metal surfaces float against colorful enameled backgrounds, much as drawing and painting interact in manuscripts. A sketch of a head on the reverse of this piece suggests that artists worked out compositions in a graphic mode before attempting completed designs.