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Reliquary Cross with Crucifixion
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Reliquary Cross with Crucifixion

Description Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description This exceptional pendant consists of a reliquary cross inside a hinged case with six small adjacent compartments for relics (see also Walters 57.1511A and 57.1511B). The impressive amethyst cameo depicting the Virgin and Child on the lid is surrounded by cabochon rubies and emeralds alternating with pearls. The cross and the outer edge of the case are adorned with additional pearls, and the back of the case is decorated in a similar fashion, omitting the central cameo. A ground of dense filigree covers the front and back of the case, while the inside as well as the inscription and the Crucifixion scene on the cross are done in niello. The text identifies the donor, location, and the time when the piece was crafted, which is rare in Post-Byzantine jewelry: the cross was dedicated by the Metropolitan Arsenios of Serres, a town in northern Greece, to the monastery of St. John on the island of Chalke near Constantinople in the middle of the 16th century.
  • Early Christian and Byzantine Art. Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore. 1947.
  • Exhibition of Gold. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland. 1947-1948.
  • New York World's Fair 1964: Protestant and Orthodox Pavilion. Protestant and Orthodox Pavilion, New York World's Fair, New York. 1964.
  • Jewelry - Ancient to Modern. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979-1980.
  • The Taste of Maryland: Art Collecting in Maryland 1800-1934. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984.
  • Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2004.
  • Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry from the Walters Art Museum. Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2006-2009.
Provenance Metropolitan Arsenios, Serres, Greece; Monastery of the Holy Trinity called Esopotron, Chalke [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Transcription] On the face of the cross: Ἐξηγόρασας ἡμᾶς τῶ τιμίω σου ἔματι, τῶ στ(αυ)ρῶ προσηλωθείς [Ἐξηγόρασας ἡμᾶς τῶ τιμίω σου αἵματι, τῶ σταυρῶ προσηλωθείς] [around the sides of the cross] + Ἀφιερόθ(η) παρὰ τοῦ ἱεροτά(του) μητροπολείτου Σερ῱ν κὶρ Ἀρσενίου ἐν τεῖ μονεῖ τῆς Ἁγίας (Τριά)δος τῆς ὀνομαζομένης Ἐσοπτροῦ ἐν Χάλκι τῆ νήσο [+ Ἀφιερώθη παρὰ τοῦ ἱεροτάτου μητροπολίτου Σερρῶν κὺρ Ἀρσενίου ἐν τῆ μονῆ τῆς Ἁγίας Τριάδος τῆς ὀνομαζομένης Ἐσόπτρου ἐν Χάλκη τῆ νήσω]; [Translation] Thou hast redeemed us by Thy precious blood, nailed to the cross… (Tri?dion: sessional hymns at Matins, Tone 4, Wednesday) around the sides of the cross: Presented by the most holy metropolitan of Serres, Arsenius, to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity called Esoptron on the island of Chalke
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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mid 16th century (Post-Byzantine)
pearls, gold, niello
(Gold, Silver & Jewelry)
Accession Number
Cross H with lope: 2 1/16 x W: 1 1/4 x D: 1/4 in. (5.24 x 3.18 x 0.64 cm)
  • Greece, Serres (Place of Origin)
  • Turkey, Istanbul (Chalke) (Place Mentioned)


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