Exhibitions/ Art Object

Portable Altar

second half 12th century with later repairs
German (Hildesheim)
Serpentine, walrus ivory, champlevé enamel, and gilded copper; wood core
Overall: 2 7/8 x 9 13/16 x 5 11/16 in. (7.3 x 25 x 14.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Dom-Museum Hildesheim (DS 25)
Not on view
This small altar was used to take Mass to those unable to attend church. Eucharistic vessels containing wine and bread were placed upon the serpentine surface, which is surrounded by engravings of saints related to Hildesheim Cathedral, including its bishops Bernward and Godehard. The engravings are later additions that probably imitate the original program. The ivory busts on the sides depict Christ with Saints Peter and Paul, eight apostles, and Mary with two angels and two holy virgins.
Cathedral Treasury, Hildesheim (1150–1200); Dom-Museum Hildesheim Documentation: Victor Heinrich Elbern, Der Hildesheimer Domschatz (Hildesheim: Lax, 1969), no. 25; Michael Brandt, ed., Abglanz des Himmels. Romanik in Hildesheim: Katalog zur Ausstellung des Dom-Museums Hildesheim (Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2001), no. 4.32.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim," September 16, 2013–January 5, 2014.