Germany, Lower Saxony?, Romanesque period, 11th century
Gold, cloisonné enamel, porphyry, gems, pearls, niello, wood core, Overall: 10.5 x 27.5 x 21 cm (4 1/8 x 10 13/16 x 8 1/4 in.). Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1931.462.a
Commissioned by Countess Gertrude of Brunswick, this portable altar is one of the Guelph Treasure’s earliest and most sumptuous objects. The choice of white-speckled porphyry as the altar stone signals Gertrude’s worldly aspirations; an imperial color since classical antiquity, porphyry was used only by the imperial family. Historical figures of royal and imperial rank are depicted with Christ, the Virgin, apostles, and archangels along the altar’s sides, stressing the countess’s political ambitions and claim of imperial lineage for her own dynasty. The Latin inscription surrounding the altar stone reads, "Gertrude offers to Christ, to live joyfully in him, this stone that glistens with gems and gold."
CMA, October 17, 2010 - January 17, 2011, Walters Art Museum February 13 - May 15, 2011, British Museum June 23 - October 9, 2011: "Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe," cat. no 42.Bavarian Nationalmuseum, Munich (5/10/2007 - 9/16/2007), the J. Paul Getty Musuem, Los Angeles (10/30/2007 - 1/20/2008) and Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN (2/13/2009 - 6/7/2009): "Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art"
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