Lot 9
  • 9

German, Cologne, around 1180

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
21,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Plaquette in the form of a Nimbus
  • champlevé enamelled copper
  • 5cm., 2in. diameter


Engelbert-Marie, 9th Duke of Arenberg, Brussels;
Ernst Kofler and Marthe Truniger, Lucerne, before 1964 to 1971;
Edmund de Unger, London;
his sale, Sotheby's New York, The Keir Collection of Medieval Works of Art, 20 November 1997, lot 9


Zurich, Kunsthaus, E and M Kofler-Truniger Collection, 1964, no. 840;
Kansas City, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Medieval enamels and sculptures from the Keir Collection, 1983, no. 10


Sammlung E. und M. Kofler-Truniger, Luzern, exhib. cat. Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich, 1964, p. 93, no. 840;
H. Schnitzler, P. Bloch and C. Ratton, Email, Goldschmiede- und Metallarbeiten. Europäisches Mittelalter, Sammlung E. und M. Kofler-Truniger, Luzern, Lucerne/ Stuttgart, 1965, vol. II, E20, pl. 34;
M. Stokstad, Medieval enamels and sculptures from the Keir Collection, exhib. cat. Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 1983, no. 10

Catalogue Note

The majority of the Romanesque enamels in this private collection are from the Meuse region of the Low Countries and the Rhineland in Germany, but the group also incorporates the better-known enamels from Limoges (lots 21, 24, 29). Whereas the workshops of Limoges tended to manufacture entire objects out of champlevé enamel on copper, Mosan and Rhenish workshops preferred to produce small-scale plaques which were subsequently applied as merely one decorative element among many to the surface of larger objects (see lot 10). Although such objects are still to be found in museums and church treasuries, many enamels have survived simply as individual plaques. Enamels from this region are generally regarded as among the rarest examples of medieval craftsmanship.

Enamel is a vitrious substance, usually lead-soda or lead-potash glass with or without opacifiers and colourants, which fuses to a metal surface under heat. Although several different enamelling techniques exist, the one most commonly used between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries was the champlevé technique in which the powdered enamel was poured into grooves engraved on the metal surface, heated and then polished down to the same level as the surrounding metal. The majority of the enamels from this private collection employ this technique. In two lots this process is combined with an alternative technique called cloisonné, in which the enamel is poured into compartments formed by metal bands on the surface of the object (lots 10, 18). Basse-taille is the third technique, in which translucent enamel is applied over reliefs of gold and silver so that the colour of enamel is strongest where the relief is most deeply cut.