Lot 161: 15th C. European Carved / Painted Wood Relic Box Lid

Artemis Gallery

March 15, 2018
Louisville, CO, US

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Description: Europe, ca. 15th to 18th century CE. A sliding wooden lid with a handle at one end and beveled edges, probably from a relic box, carved with a relief image of Christ or a revered saint laid to rest in his rectangular tomb, with arms crossed over his chest and wearing a loin cloth. Below is a checkerboard pattern painted in black and caramel hues. A special example of Christian art. Size: 3.25" W x 10.375" H (8.3 cm x 26.4 cm)

Relics are the surviving personal effects or remains - usually clothes or parts of the body such as bones - of saints, martyrs, or other sacred personages deemed worthy of veneration - remaining as a memorial to the departed hallowed figure. The word relics stems from the Latin reliquiae which was actually in use prior to the spread of Christianity. Reliquaries are containers created to store and display said relics. Since relics are regarded as precious, they have traditionally been enshrined in vessels that display keen workmanship and oftentimes precious materials. This particular lid, being relatively simple in form, was most likely created for a more humble individual whose faith led him to acquire a sacred relic.

Provenance: private Owen collection, New Jersey, USA, acquired in the 1990s from a US-based dealer; The estate of a prominent Egyptologist active in the mid 20th century. Brought to the US in 1954.

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Condition Report: Expected surface wear with abraded areas and pigment loss as shown. Age cracks. A perforation through the handle for suspension or attachment. Several partial perforations to section below figure.
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