Lot 7
  • 7

French, Limoges, second half 13th century

22,000 - 28,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Censer
  • partially gilt and champlevé enamelled copper
  • French, Limoges, second half 13th century


private collection, South Germany

Catalogue Note

Censers are among the rarest enamelled copper objects from the workshops in Limoges. Their frequent use in mass and other ceremonies, in which the openwork orbs were swung to spread frankincense, must have frequently caused damage. Where contemporary censers from elsewhere were often designed as a stylised town, evoking the Eternal City, Limoges censers seem to follow a formal architecture of their own. The three other known complete examples, one in the Cloisters collection (inv. no. 50.7.3.a-b) and two in Musée de Cluny (CL 12091 and 22424), each consist of a small foot on which an elaborately enamelled hemispherical bowl rests. The top half has two or three tiers with bands of decoration. The larger band on the underside is decorated with further floral enamelling and sometimes foliate or animal openwork. The tier(s) above have the keyhole piercings which are found throughout Limoges metalwork, most notably lining the roofs of reliquary chasses, and are there to let the smoke out of the vessel. Suspension chains ran through the pairs of loops along the edges of both halves.

E. Taburet-Delahaye and B. Drake Boehm (eds.), L'Oeuvre de Limoges. Emaux Limousins du Moyen Age, exh. cat. Musée du Louvre, Paris and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Paris, 1995, p. 303, no. 100 and p. 373, no. 131; E. Taburet-Delahaye, 'Les encensoirs limousins du musée de Cluny', A. von Hülsen-Esch and Dagmar Täube (eds.), "Luft unter die Flugel...". Beiträge zur mittelalterlichen Kunst. Festschrift für Hiltrud Westermann-Angerhausen, Hildesheim, 2010, pp. 92-98