French; Made in Limoges
Gilded copper with champlevé enamel; 7 1/2 x 8 1/16 in. (19 x 20.5 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.344)
Rich with gilding, its overall surface engraved and enameled in a pattern that suggests layers of feathers, this dove would have hung over an altar as an evocation of the Holy Spirit. A tear-shaped door on its back conceals a small cavity once used to hold the bread of the Eucharist. Though many textual sources mention gold and silver doves, suggesting these materials were part of the standard liturgical furnishings for churches and communities that could afford them, few examples survive. On the other hand, doves of Limoges work fashioned from copper and enameled in brilliant colors exist in large numbers.