Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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The Antioch "Chalice"

Date:
500–550
Geography:
Made in Antioch or Kaper Koraon (?)
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Silver, silver-gilt
Dimensions:
Overall: 7 11/16 x 7 1/16 x 6 in. (19.6 x 18 x 15.2 cm) foot: 2 15/16 in. (7.4 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1950
Accession Number:
50.4
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300
When it was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century, this "chalice" was claimed to have been found in Antioch, a city so important to the early Christians that it was recognized with Rome and Alexandria as one of the great sees of the church. The chalice's plain silver interior bowl was then ambitiously identified as the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. The elaborate footed shell enclosing it was thought to have been made within a century after the death of Christ to encase and honor the Grail. The fruited grapevine forming the rinceau pattern of the gilded shell is inhabited by birds, including an eagle; animals, including a lamb and a rabbit; and twelve human figures holding scrolls and seated in high-backed chairs. Two of the figures are thought to be images of Christ. The other ten figures have been variously identified as ten of the twelve apostles, or philosophers of the classical age, who, like the prophets of the Old Testament, had foretold the coming of Christ. The sixth-century chronicler Malalas of Antioch was among those who sought to make such links between Christianity and classical philosophy.

The identification of the "Antioch Chalice" as the Holy Grail has not been sustained, and even its authenticity has at times been challenged. The work has usually been considered a sixth-century chalice for the Eucharist. Most recently, however, its shape has been recognized as more closely resembling sixth-century standing lamps, its decoration possibly in recognition of Christ's words "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). It has been argued to be part of a treasure of liturgical objects found in 1908 belonging to the Church of Saint Sergios in the town of Kaper Koraon southeast of Antioch. If so, Saint Sergios' parishioners might well have traveled to Antioch to purchase the object as a donation for their church. Or it may have been used in one of the churches in or near Antioch.
[ Kouchakji Frères, Paris and New York (by 1913)] ; [ Fahim Joseph Kouchakji, New York (sold 1950)]
Bacon, Benjamin Wisner. "Eagle and Basket on the Antioch Chalice." The Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 5 (1923–24). pp. 1–22.

Exposition internationale d'art byzantin. Paris: Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Pavillon de Marsan, 1931. no. 335, p. 115, pl. I.

Arnason, H. Harvard. "The History of the Chalice of Antioch." The Biblical Archaeologist 4, no. 4 (December 1941). pp. 49–64, fig. 1.

Arnason, H. Harvard. "The History of the Chalice of Antioch (continued)." The Biblical Archaeologist 5, no. 1 (February 1942). pp. 10–16, fig. 6–7.

Filson, Floyd V. "Who Are the Figures on Chalice of Antioch." The Biblical Archaeologist 5, no. 1 (February 1942). pp. 1–10, fig. 1–5.

Miner, Dorothy, ed. Early Christian and Byzantine Art: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1947. no. 388, p. 86, pl. LIV.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1952. no. 41, pp. 45, 49, 51, 221.

Rorimer, James J. "The Authenticity of the Chalice of Antioch." In Studies in Art and Literature for Belle da Costa Greene, edited by Dorothy Miner. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954. pp. 161–68, fig. 127–32.

Hoving, Thomas. "The Thread of Patronage: The Medieval Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters." Apollo 82, no. 43 (September 1965). p. 192, fig. 16.

Ostoia, Vera K. The Middle Ages: Treasures from the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969. no. 6, pp. 24–25, 251–52.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: Dutton Publishing, 1970. no. 111, p. 148.

Beeson, Nora B., ed. Guide to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. no. 9, p. 211.

Deuchler, Florens. "The Cloisters: ein Museum für mittelalterliche Kunst in New York." Du 32, no. 2 (1972). p. 95.

Weitzmann, Kurt. "The Late Roman World." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 35, no. 2 (Autumn 1977). no. 81, pp. 92–93, fig. 81.

Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 542, pp. 606–8.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. no. 8, pp. 341–42.

Frazer, Margaret English. "Medieval Church Treasuries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 43, no. 3 (Winter 1985-1986). p. 8, fig. 1.

Allen, Susan Heuck. "The True Vine: Dionysiac Imagery in Coptic Textiles and Later Medieval Art." In Survival of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Medieval Art. Providence, R.I.: Brown University, 1987. p. 7, fig. 6.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 17, pp. 30–31.

Burn, Barbara, ed. Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 62.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 8, pp. 374–75.

Kondoleon, Christine. Antioch: The Lost Ancient City. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. no. 104, pp. 214–15.

Eisenberg, Jerome M. "The New Byzantine Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Minerva 12, no. 3 (2001). pp. 26–27, fig. 14.

Evans, Helen C., Melanie Holcomb, and Robert Hallman. "The Arts of Byzantium." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 58, no. 4 (Spring 2001). p. 21.

McLachlan Elizabeth Parker. "Liturgical Vessels and Implements." In The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, edited by Thomas J. Heffernan, and E. Ann Matter. Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University, 2005. p. 385.

Cormack, Robin, and Maria Vassilaki, ed. Byzantium 330–1453. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2008. no. 19, pp. 382–83, ill. p. 78.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012. p. 180.



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