The Fieschi Morgan Staurotheke


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 303

Elaborately worked in cloisonné enamel, the lid of this box displays Christ on the cross wearing the colobium (sleeveless or short-sleeve tunic) associated with early images of the Crucifixion. Christ stands erect, his eyes wide open. His posture, the sun and the moon on either side of his head, and the flowers growing at the base of the cross express Christ’s triumph over death. Beside him the Virgin and John the Theologian raise their hands to their faces in a gesture of mourning. Twenty-seven busts of saints appear on the lid and sides of the box. Worked in niello on the undersurface of the lid are four scenes from the life of Christ—the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and the Anastasis (Descent into Hell). The interior of the box houses a cross-shaped container for the relic, with the remaining spaces possibly meant to contain other relics associated with the Holy Land. The patterns on the base resemble a book cover, perhaps a reference to the Gospels, which contain the story of the Crucifixion. The box is a testament to the sacrifice of Christ and the promise of salvation through his death.

The Fieschi Morgan Staurotheke, Gilded silver, gold, enamel worked in cloisonné, and niello, Byzantine

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