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Ceremonial Cross of Count Liudolf

Ceremonial Cross of Count Liudolf

shortly after 1038

Gold: worked in repoussé; cloisonné enamel; intaglio gems; pearls; wood core

Overall: 24.2 x 21.6 cm (9 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1931.461

Description

This precious gold cross was commissioned by Countess Gertrude (died 1077) and given to the church of Saint Blaise following the death of her husband, Count Liudolf of Brunswick (died 1038). The cross is decorated with a large oval-shaped chalcedony at its center and with slightly smaller rock crystals at its terminal ends. Fine but fragmentary cloisonné enamel plaques with pairs of confronting peacocks, symbols of immortality, appear at the center of each cross arms. They are set within an intricate system of filigree wire decoration imitating tendrils. Numerous pearls, three large intaglio gems, and various precious and semiprecious stones complete the decoration of the cross. Concealed behind the enamel plaque on the upper cross arm are relics of Saints Valerius and Pancratius as well as a fragment from the stone that sealed the Sepulcher of the Lord. The back of this cross is very worn, making it difficult to recognize the main features of its repoussé decoration. Faintly visible at the center is the Lamb of God, a symbol of Christ, with a cross-shaped halo. Depicted at the end of the cross arms are the symbols of the four Evangelists. A Latin inscription above the Lamb of God identifies the relics concealed behind it, namely "relics of the saintly bishop Valerius, of Pancratius martyr, [and] of the stone that was placed above the tomb of the Lord." A second inscription below states, "This [work] was commissioned by Gertrude for the soul of Count Liudolf," revealing the identity of the cross's patron and the approximate date of its commission.

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