Arras Reliquary

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Cologne or Mosan, Germany, ca. 1200
Crystal, with copper-gilt mountings and champlevé enamel decoration.
height: 14 3/8 inches (365 mm); base: 5 3/4 inches (146 mm) diameter

A reliquary of a type known as an ostensory, which reveals its contents through transparent rock crystal. Although it is said to have contained the relics of Saints Denis and Ursula in the 17th century, its original contents are uncertain and remain a matter of speculation. It has been proposed that the slender tube of the reliquary once contained a holy thorn or nail. Some scholars have suggested that the entire piece dates to the 19th century.
Formerly attributed to the workshop of Nicholas of Verdun.

Paul Boudot, Bishop of St. Omer (1619-1627); Mlle. Agnes de Mailly, Convent of the Ursulines, Aire-sur-la-lys; Convent of the Ursuline Order at Arras; Lannoy, Paris; Simon Goldschmidt; Sigismond Bardac, Paris; acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan from Jacques Seligmann & Co., February 1909.

Rock crystal cylinder with foot, knob, and lid in copper-gilt champlevé enamel.