THE STOCLET ORB
With its leaf garland decoration at the top and the bottom of the orb, and the acorn motif at the top in the centre, the orb compares very closely to aspects of medieval reliquary shrines produced in the last two decades of the 12th century. A prime example is the Shrine of the Three Kings in the Cologne Cathedral Treasury, which includes three similar original orbs with leaf decoration that compare in size to the present lot (Kemper, op. cit., cat. nos. 1848-1858). Even more similar in style to the present orb are those crowning the Anno Shrine in Siegburg and the Albinus Shrine in Cologne (Baumgarten and Buchen, op. cit., p. 48-60). The two orbs on the Albinus Shrine compare in both colour scheme and decorative patterns, including the larger circles of gilt copper which enclose smaller enamelled geometrical patterns. The present orb, with its inventive animal motifs on a dark blue background and foliate decoration, further compares to plaques of blue and gold enamel-work which have been removed from the Cologne Three Kings Shrine, and are now in the Schnütgen Museum (inv. no. G545; Kemper, op. cit., p. 488).
The colonnette, with its vibrant colour scheme and geometrical pattern of arches, compares particularly well to a number of colonnettes on the Three Kings Shrine, in particular those flanking the prophet Nahum on the side with King Solomon; and to one of the colonnettes at the far left of the reliquary on the same side (Kemper, op. cit., cat. nos. 418 and 446). See also a colonnette, formerly part of the same Shrine, now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (inv. no. MA 249). Intriguingly, however, the present colonnette is also reminiscent of another piece, in the Victoria and Albert Museum (in. no. 222-1874), catalogued as French or Southern Netherlandish, and two colonnettes which are now on the Three Kings Shrine, but which originate from the socle of a Limoges 12th century processional cross, which was dismantled in the 1960s and constructed onto the shrine (Kemper, op. cit., cat no. 953; Kötzsche, op. cit., pp. 71-73). Therefore, there is a possibility that the present colonnette could have been created in a French workshop, which would perhaps explain a difference in the production process which was detected in a technical analysis executed by Cranfield Forensic Institute, which also indicates a possible slightly later date for the colonnette.
An analysis report on the enamels prepared by the Centre for Archaeological and Forensic Analysis at Cranfield University is available from the department upon request.
O. von Falke, Der Dreikönigenschrein des Nikolaus von Verdun im Cölner Domschatz, Mönchengladbach, 1911; A. Pératé, Collections Georges Hoentschel: Émaux du XIIe au XVe siècle. Paris, 1911. no. 23, fig. XI; A. Muñoz, Pièces de Choix de la Collection du comte Grégoire Stroganoff à Rome: Volume 2, Moyen-Âge – Renaissance – Époque Moderne, Rome, 1912. p. 214, pl. CLIV; J. Baumgarten and H. Buchen, Kölner Reliquienschreine, Cologne, 1985; H. Swarzenski and N. Netzer, Medieval Objects in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Enamels & Glass, Boston, 1986, cat. no. 16; D. Kötzsche, 'Fragmente vom Dreikönigenschrein - Wo sind sie geblieben?', in K. Hardering and L. Becks (eds.) Kölner Domblatt, Jahrbuch des Zentral-Dombau-Vereins, Cologne, 2009, pp. 67-110; D. Kemper, Die Goldschmidearbeiten am Dreikönigenschrein: Bestand und Geschichte seiner Restaurierungen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, vols. 1-3, Cologne, 2014
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