Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Reliquary Chasse

Made in Canterbury, England
Copper; shaped, engraved, chased, and gilded; feet cast
Overall: 7 x 10 x 4 1/2in. (17.8 x 25.4 x 11.4cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1980
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
Incised on the panels of this chasse is a series of bust-length figures within medallions. Represented on one lid panel is Christ flanked by Saints Peter and Paul, and on the other, the Virgin flanked by Saints Ursula and Cordula. On the front panel are Saints Elphege and Thomas Becket (both with martyrs’ palms), Dunstan, and Anselm, all canonized archbishops of Canterbury. On the back panel are Saints Blaise and Augustine. The end panels depict sainted English kings Edmund and Edward the Confessor. The choice of saints suggests that the chasse was made for Christ Church, Canterbury, a foundation rich in relics and, therefore, a full calendar of feast days. The saints represented here were mentioned in the early thirteenth-century calendar, or their relics were listed in the early fourteenth-century inventory. When the original gilding was intact, the medallions were more legible.
Inscription: Inscribed ends:

[Various] (Edward the Confessor, 1042-1066)
[Various] (Edmund, King of East Anglia, 840-870)

Inscribed Back panel:

[Various] (Saint Blaise or Blasius, a relic of whom was at Canterbury)
[Various] (Saint Augustine, the first archbishop, 597-605)

Inscribed Front panel:
[Various] (Saint Elphege, martyr, the 28th archbishop, 1005-1012)
[Various] (Saint Thomas Becket, martyr, the 39th archbishop, 1162-1170)
[Various] (Saint Dunstan, the 24th archbishop, 960-988)
[Various] (Saint Anselm, the 35th archbishop, 1093-1109)

Inscribed Front of the lid:
[Various] (Peter)
[Various] (Alpha and Omega) [upside down]
[Various] (Paul)

Inscribed Back of the lid:
[Various] (Saint Ursula, martyr, a 5th-century Briton)
[Various] (Saint Mary)
[Various] (Saint Cordula, martyr, a 5th-century Briton)
Sammuel James Whawell 1857–1926 ; Robert Haynes ; David Black & Sons ; Mr. and Mrs. John Hunt, Drumleck Baily, Co. Dublin, Ireland
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art in Context," December 8, 2014–March 8, 2015.

Catalogue of the Magnificent Collection of Armour, Weapons and Works of Art, The Property of the late S. J. Whawell, Esq.. London: Sotheby & Co., May 3–6, 1927. no. 449 (?), p. 75.

Catalogue of Rugs and Carpets [...] and English and Continental Furniture [...] The Property of W. F. de Winton, Esq. and The Property of the late Captain S. W. Sykes, O.B.E., M.C.. London: Sotheby & Co., June 3, 1966. no. 57, p. 13.

Hoffmann, Konrad, ed. The Year 1200: A Centennial Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 1. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1970. no. 88, pp. 80–81.

Newton, Peter A. "Some New Material for the Study of the Iconography of St. Thomas Becket." In Thomas Becket: Actes du colloque international de Sédières, 19-24 août 1973. Paris: Beauchesne, 1975. p. 263.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions, 1980-1981 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1981). pp. 23-24.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Eleventh Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1980, through June 30, 1981." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 111 (1981). p. 42.

Gazette des Beaux-Arts. "La Chronique des Arts: Principales Acquisitions des Musées en 1981." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 6th ser., 99, supplement (March 1982). no. 207, p. 40.

Schiedlausky, Günther. Kühlkugel und Wärmapfel. Munich and Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1984. p. 50.

Frazer, Margaret English. "Medieval Church Treasuries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 43, no. 3 (Winter 1985-1986). pp. 50, 52–53, fig. 60.

Dandridge, Pete. "The Development of the Canterbury Chest." In The Cloisters: Studies in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary, edited by Elizabeth C. Parker. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. pp. 228-33.

Wixom, William D. "In quinto scrinio de Cupro, A Copper Reliquary Chest Attributed to Canterbury: Style, Iconography, and Patronage." In The Cloisters: Studies in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary, edited by Elizabeth C. Parker. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. pp. 194-227, fig. 1a-e, 7a-b, 8, 11-14; pl. 4.

Luckhardt, Jochen, and Franz Niehoff, ed. Heinrich der Löwe und seine Zeit: Herrschaft und Repräsentation der Welfen 1125-1235; Katalog der Ausstellung Braunschweig. Vol. 1. Munich: Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, 1995. no. D 120, pp. 328-29.

Netzer, Nancy, and Virginia Reinburg, ed. Memory and the Middle Ages. Chestnut Hill, Mass.: Boston College Museum of Art, 1995. no. 16, p. 102.

Reinburg, Virginia. "Remembering the Saints." In Memory and the Middle Ages, edited by Nancy Netzer, and Virginia Reinburg. Chestnut Hill, Mass.: Boston College Museum of Art, 1995. no. 16, p. 23.

Evans, Helen C., and William D. Wixom, ed. The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843–1261. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. no. 302, pp. 463-4.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 116, pp. 97–98.

Raguin, Virginia C. "Christian Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance." In Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, edited by Virginia C. Raguin, Dina Bangdel, and F. E. Peters. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2010. p. 145, fig. 2.

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