Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Processional cross

ca. 1460–80
Italian, Florence
Partly gilt silver, niello, and copper with traces of gilding, over wood
Overall: 21 3/4 × 12 3/4 in. (55.2 × 32.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 500
Inscriptions on the back of this object indicate that it served as the repository for a relic believed to be a fragment of the True Cross and that it is thought to have been made for a convent of the Poor Clares, probably in Florence. It is an extraordinary example of Florentine Renaissance metalwork, incorporating within its silver-gilt frame a series of twenty silver plaques with nielloed scenes depicting the Passion of Christ and various saints.
Inscription: Above reliquary window: [1] LIGNUM CRUCIS; On base: [2] QUESTA CROC[E] E /DEI[L]E POV / ERE MON / ACHE DI / SANTA CHI / RA [D AVE / RNA ?] (partial trans.: This cross is made for the Poor Sisters of Santa Chiara...); On plaque of The Last Supper: [3] ABL (cypher of Baccio Baldini)

On cross on central plaque: INRI [Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews)]
Karl Thewalt (by 1902–1903; his sale, Lempertz, Cologne, November 4–14, 1903, no. 985; sold to Julius Campe); Julius Campe (from 1903) ; J. Pierpont Morgan , London and New York (until 1913; to his son, J. P. Morgan Jr.) ; by descent, J. P. Morgan Jr. (1913–17; to MMA)
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