A Wonderful Mid 19thC Shadow Box Framed Reliquary


Origin: French or German
Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860
Height: 7.5 inches
Width: 5.75 inches
Depth: 2 inches
The Whole: 9.25 X 11 inches

The glazed three-dimensional reliquary, with paperolles work, paper filigree quilling, dried and tied flowers, beads and gilded scrolled papers in Latin text and silk cord with central paper cartouche depicting three figures and the crucifix and red rubber stamped seal, the whole encased in a chunky gilded ribbed frame, survives from mid nineteenth century Europe.

The contents of the reliquary are in good order and no elements are loose. The gilding to the frame does suffer from losses, which does give it a nice aged feel, and the glass is in tact and original. The piece has no restoration to note. One corner of the glazing appears to have some over gilt painting. The reverse shows a papier-mâché backing that has been stained ebony, though we can make out the paper used to contruct it and the language is in German. Some of the Latin text reads: “confumant fed laborius ecclefiaftlicis affuefcant curatis interato praeci”.

A reliquary (also referred to as a shrine or by the French term châsse) is a container for relics. These may be the physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures. This particular example is possibly a convent piece worked by cloistered nuns. The use of reliquaries became an important part of Christian practices from at least the 4th century and provided a means of protecting and displaying relics, which many believe are endowed by God with the grace of miraculous powers. They range in size from simple pendants or rings to coffin-like containers, to very elaborate ossuaries. Since the relics themselves were considered "more valuable than precious stones and more to be esteemed than gold," it was considered only appropriate that they be enshrined in vessels, or reliquaries, crafted of or covered by gold, silver, ivory, gems, and enamel.

A bewitching and decorative example of religious remnants.