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Reliquary with the Man of Sorrows
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Reliquary with the Man of Sorrows

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description The image of the Man of Sorrows is a distillation of the events of Christ's Passion. Christ contemplates with sorrow the instruments of his suffering: the cross and hammer, whips, nails, column of the Flagellation, and the dice thrown by the soldiers for his garments. The gabled container held by an angel once housed a thorn believed to be from Christ's Crown of Thorns, while the hinged cross and column probably held pieces of wood believed to be from Christ's cross and from the column against which he was whipped. According to an inscription on the base, the reliquary was ordered by the bishop of Olomouc in Moravia to house the Holy Thorn. It was surely a present for Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Both men's coats of arms (those of Moravia and Bohemia) are on the base, and the thorn was already in the emperor's famous collection of relics, as a gift from the king of France. As Charles reigned over both Bohemia and Moravia only from 1347 to 1349, the piece dates to this time. The sophisticated workmanship is characteristic of objects created for the imperial court in Prague.

Deteriorated acrylic coating was removed with appropriate solvents; dark silver tarnish was reduced as possible; new coating applied to forestall future tarnishing; mechanical connection between figure of Christ and base repaired.

The protective coating was damaged during a recent traveling exhibition. The recently applied coating was retouched.

A recent lacquer coating broke down during shipment and handling for exhibition. The damaged coating was locally removed and replaced.

Date Description Narrative
4/12/1961Treatmentcleaned; coated; reconstructed
3/22/1962Treatmentrepaired; coated
3/28/1962Treatmentcleaned; coated; repaired
4/11/1978Loan Considerationother
8/16/1999Loan Considerationexamined for loan
4/12/2000Examinationexamined for technical study
5/01/2006Examinationexamined for condition
5/31/2006Treatmentexamined for technical study; other
6/01/2006Examinationexamined for condition
1/01/2007Examinationexamined for technical study
10/23/2009Loan Considerationexamined for loan
5/24/2016TreatmentCleaned, repaired
8/03/2017TreatmentTreated for exhibition
11/29/2017TreatmentCleaned for exhibition.
  • The International Style: The Arts in Europe Around 1400. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1962.
  • Kaiser Karl IV, 1316-1378. Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich. 1978.
  • Die Parler und der Schöne Stil, 1350-1400. Schnütgen-Museum, Cologne. 1978-1979.
  • Reliquaries and Ritual: Medieval Objects of Devotion. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984-1985.
  • Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001.
  • The Way to Heaven: Relic Veneration in the Middle Ages. Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht; Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, Amsterdam. 2000-2001.
  • Prague: The Crown of Bohemia. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Prague Castle, Prague 1. 2005-2006.
  • Silesia - A Pearl in the Bohemian Crown: Three Periods of Flourishing Artistic Relations. Waldstein Riding School, Prague, Prague. 2006-2007.
  • Treasures of Heaven. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; The British Museum, London. 2010-2011.
  • A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota. 2016-2017.
Provenance Jacques Seligmann, Paris; purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore, June 9 1903; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions [Transcription] Majuscule inscription on the pedestal: HANC.MONSTRANCIAM.CUM.SPINA.CHORONE.DOMINI.DNS.IOHANNES.OLOMUCZENSIS.EPISCOPUS.PREPARARI.FECIT. [Translation] John, the bishop of Olmütz, commissioned this monstrance with the thorn of the crown of Christ
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1903

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1347-1349 (Medieval)
gilded silver, champlevé enamel, and glass
(Gold, Silver & Jewelry)
Accession Number
H: 11 5/8 x W at wings: 8 3/8 x D: 5 in. (29.53 x 21.27 x 12.7 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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