Dec 12, 2006

Plaque from a Chasse for Relics of Saint Thomas Becket

Plaque from a Chasse for Relics of Saint Thomas Becket


Master G. Alpais and Workshop


Copper: gilded and engraved; champlevé enamel

Overall: 16.9 x 28.5 x 0.5 cm (6 5/8 x 11 1/4 x 3/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1951.449


On December 29, 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket was brutally murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. The immediate popularity of Becket’s cult is reflected in the large number of enamel reliquaries produced in late 12th- and early 13th-century Limoges workshops to house relics associated with the archbishop, who was canonized only three years after his death. This plaque, which pairs a scene depicting the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket with one of Christ’s Crucifixion, once formed the principal face of such a reliquary.

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