Clasp

Date: ca. 1200

Geography: Made in Meuse Valley, South Netherlands

Culture: South Netherlandish

Medium: Copper alloy, gilding

Dimensions: Overall: 2 1/8 x 2 7/8 x 5/8 in. (5.4 x 7.3 x 1.6 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Bronze

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1947

Accession Number: 47.101.48a, b

Description

The scene on this gilded bronze buckle eludes precise identification. It depicts two royal figures with their attendants. Though they may represent biblical monarchs, such as Solomon and Sheba or Esther and Ahasuerus, it seems more likely that the figures are characters from a romance, perhaps King Mark and his queen Iseult from Tristan and Iseult. In the early thirteenth century, Arthurian and romance tales were becoming widely known in western Europe and scenes from these stories would come to be depicted on an array of precious objects, including small boxes, mirror cases, combs, and knife handles.

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