central glazed square body with hinged door centred by detachable lunette mount, rising to octagonal temple enclosing the Mater Dolorosa below Christ crucified, embossed and chased throughout with fiery-tongued monsters and masks in vases and hairy lobes, ribbed discs enclosing vase stem above polyform foliate-chased base, marked on base and three panels
Surviving examples of the square Spanish monstrance, a vessel used to display the consecrated host at the annual feast of Corpus Christi and at the Service of Benediction, appear to date from between about 1520 and 1600. After the Council of Trent (1545-63), a period of intense self-examination for the Catholic Church, monstrances began to appear with sun-like rays symbolising Christ's regeneration and radiance.
Comparing stylistic features with silver from Castile leads to a tentantive attribution to this region. Notable are the unbracketed ribbed discs above and below the vase stem found on another glazed square monstrance from León, circa 1550, in the Várez Fisa collection, and the lobing combined with tied fruiting foliate bands on the foot of a chalice in the same collection (Cristiana Esteras Martíin, La Platería de la Colección Varez Fisa, Madrid, 2000, nos. 12 and 24). Equally a monstrance in London's Victoria and Albert Museum, from around 1525 and described as Aragonese or Castilian, also displays pierced ornament of distinctive semi-circular outline, softening the transition between circular foot and square body (Charles Oman, The Golden Age of Hispanic Silver, London, 1968, figs. 92 and 140). On the other hand, the lively embossed monster ornament (see detail) is repeated almost identically on an octagonal brazier in the Cathedral of Córdoba which is attributed to that city. It is perhaps interesting to note that the mark on the present monstrance, BAE CAX [?] (see detail), is similar to the town name of Baeca (Baeza), which has Xs incorporated in the town arms and is geographically close to Córdoba. Three silversmiths called Baeza are recorded at this time working in the locality (Alejandro Fernández, Rafael Munoa and Jorge Rabasco, Enciclopedia de la Plata Española y Virreinal Americana, Madrid, 1985, pp. 271and 290; and Marcas de la Plata Española y Virreinal, Madrid, 1992, p. 33).
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