Censer, Silver, raised and cast, Swiss


before 1477
Made in Basel, Switzerland
Silver, raised and cast
Overall: 31 7/8 x 5 3/4 in. (81 x 14.6 cm)
censer without chain: 9 11/16 x 5 3/4 in. (24.6 x 14.6 cm)
Lid: 7 1/4 x 5 3/4 in. (18.4 x 14.6 cm)
Base: 2 11/16 x 5 3/4 in. (6.8 x 14.6 cm)
Chain: 25 1/2in. (64.8cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 306
Octagonal in section, this censer not only draws heavily on architectural vocabulary but also, in the upper section, imitates a Gothic structure such as a centrally planned oratory or baptistery. The lowest of the three elevations is composed of eight pairs of tall, doubled windows surmounted by quatrefoils and a crocketed gable.

The architectural conceit well suits the function of the object, as the generous fenestrations allow air to fire the incense coals while providing an escape for the perfuming smoke. The four chains threaded through every other tower support the vessel; raising the fifth chain by the ring elevates the entire upper section, allowing for the addition of incense.
#3170. Censer, Part 1
#3199. Censer, Part 2
For Audio Guide tours and information, visit metmuseum.org/audioguide.
Prince Peter Soltykoff, Paris (sold 1861); Baron Achille Sellière, Paris (1861–sold 1890); J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (until 1917)
Fritz, Johann Michael. Goldschmiedekunst der Gotik in Mitteleuropa. Munich: C. H. Beck, 1982. p. 230, fig. 306, mislabelled as 17.19.0359 in text.

Pushkin Museum and State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-Prikladnoe Iskusstvo ot Pozdnei Antichnosti do Pozdnei Gotiki: Kratkii Katalog Vystavki. Moscow: Pushkin Museum, 1990. no. 66, pp. 13, 41, fig. 66.

State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-Prikladnoe Iskusstvo ot Pozdnei Antichnosti do Pozdnei Gotiki. St. Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum, 1990. no. 66, pp. 8, 138-139.

Husband, Timothy B. The Treasury of Basel Cathedral. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001. no. 16, pp.72-74.

Berkemeier-Favre, Marie-Claire, Therese Wollmann, Martin Sauter, Sabine Häberli, and Ines Braun-Balzer. Der Basler Münsterschatz: Historisches Museum Basel, edited by Brigitte Meles. Basel: Christoph Merian Verlag, 2001. no. 45, pp. 149-151.