Rock Crystal Flask with Cross


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 303

This rock crystal flask is decorated in a relief carving centered on a double-armed cross standing on a three-stepped platform, an evocation of Golgotha where Christ was crucified. Each arm of the cross is attached to the upright by an "x" mark. Vines with carefully articulated trilobed leaves scroll upward from each end of the lowest step of the base; leaves flanking a cross were a popular motif in Byzantine art. On the reverse of the flask, outlines of a carefully carved lancet leaf appear in expanding repeats until they terminate into vertical bands on each side; the bands are elaborately detailed with striations and bead motifs. The decorated zone is set off above and below by two simple bands carved in relief. At the base, the area below the bands curves down into a slightly chipped, extended cylindrical foot. The chips suggest the foot was once attached to a mount, possibly metalwork. At the top, the vessel extends more directly from the bands to the slightly curved lip. Again, chips on the lip suggest that it once had a fitting or a mount.

Rock Crystal Flask with Cross, Rock Crystal, Byzantine

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