Offered by Galerie Sismann
European old master sculpture
This superb cross in gilded bronze once housed in its heart a fragment reputed to come from the True Cross. Housed at the crossroads of its crosspieces, visible behind large glass or crystal cabochons that have now disappeared, this relic once granted power and protection to those who flocked to contemplate it. It was sublimated here by the luxurious and abundant decoration of the arms of the cross, adorned with a sumptuous decoration of arabesques, scrolls and palmettes, finely chiseled and enhanced with silver cabochons enamelled in deep blue. The hierarchy of this decoration and certain motifs such as the small cylindrical tiers crowned with a sphere which adorn the ends of the crosspieces, are reminiscent of those of a Spanish reliquary cross from the very beginning of the 17th century kept at the Metropolitan Museum in New- York (12.124.3a-b). However, the more sinuous silhouette of our work, its lush curvaceous ornaments and above all its enamelled cabochons bring our reliquary closer to the goldsmith productions of the region of Cadiz in Andalusia at the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century and more particularly still from 'a set of liturgical pieces made in Sanlucar in the first quarter of the 17th century (cf. Garrido Neva, R.Platería y plateros en Sanlúcar de Barrameda de los s.XVI-XIX, 2016, p. 69-79). Like our cross, these are part of the continuity of the art of the Mannerist goldsmith Francisco Merino at the origin of new aesthetic formulas which triumphed during the Baroque period.