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Processional Cross

Date:
ca. 1150–75
Geography:
Made in Asturias, Spain
Culture:
Spanish
Medium:
Silver, partially gilt on wood core, carved gems, jewels
Dimensions:
Overall: 23 1/4 x 19in. (59.1 x 48.3cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.1406
  • Description

    This cross conveys the luxury found within churches that dotted the Christian kingdoms of northern Spain during the Middle Ages. It comes from a twelfth-century church fifty miles east of Oviedo, once the capital of the kingdom of Asturias. The cross shows a crowned, crucified Jesus flanked on the cross’ arms by the Virgin Mary and Saint John. An angel appears at the top, as Adam rises from his grave at the bottom. A rock crystal above Jesus’ head covers a cavity that still holds an unidentified relic. Gilded filigree bars attached to each of the arms of the cross served as settings for an array of gems, including antique intaglios. Only two remain—one showing an ancient figure of Victory, and the other a male nude with a fish and spear—both prized embellishments suitable for a sumptuous object. A Latin inscription on the reverse reads: “In honor of the Holy Savior: Sanccia [Sancha] Guidisalvi had me made.” The feminine ending of Sanccia indicates that the donor, or possibly the goldsmith, was a woman.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: [on reverse]: [IN HO]NORE : S[AN]C[T]I : SA/LVATORIS : SA/NCCIA : GVIDIS/ALVI : ME : FECIT; [translation]: In honor of the Holy Savior (or, Saint Salvator), Sanccia [Sancha] Guidisalvi had me made (or, made me)

  • Provenance

    From the Church of San Salvador de Fuentes, Asturias; E. Guilhou, Paris; [ Arthur Sambon, Paris (sold 1911 or 1912)]; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (1911/12–1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
464023

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