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Altar cross: MAR.M.65-1912

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 32 (Rothschild)


Maker: Unknown




Silver, parcel-gilt, niello, wood and enamel; the wood cross is attached to a silver-gilt foot from a chalice, both parts are set with nielloed silver plaques.

Silver, parcel-gilt, niello, wood and enamel. The wood cross is attached to a silver-gilt foot from a chalice, both parts are set with silver and niello plaques. The cross retains small fragments of paint, which are predominantly red. The quatrefoil plaques on the cross illustrate the early life and Passion of Christ and include, on the front, the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Kings, the Circumcision, and Christ among the Doctors; on the back are the Crucifixion, the Angel offering Christ a chalice in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mockery of Christ, the Resurrection, and the Flagellation of Christ. At the intersection of the cross are two smaller circular plaques with, on the front, the head of the Virgin Mary, and on the back, the head of Christ. The three circular plaques on the foot represent the Virgin and Child, St Sebastian and an unidentified saint holding a palm (for martyrdom) and a banner. Silver-gilt cylinders cover the wood at the corners of the cross, and matching silver-gilt small floral bosses are appplied to the body of the cross. (Some of the bosses are missing and there are several larger holes suggesting further bosses or jewels were once applied to the crucifix.) The domed foot has a large knop set with six circular silver and niello plaques engraved with a four petalled flower. The shaped circular spreading base is embossed and chased with two urns and scrolling foliage on a matted ground and has a rim of twelve alternating semicircular and pointed lobes.

Legal notes

C.B. Marlay Bequest

Measurements and weight


At the moment, this record does not display units or type of measurements. We will rectify this as soon as possible.

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1912-06-18) by Marlay, Charles Brinsley


15th Century#
Circa 1400 - 1500


There are no maker's or town marks

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Cross composed of wood
Cross Surface composed of paint
Base Surface composed of gold
Base composed of silver
Plaques composed of silver
Plaque Surface composed of niello

Identification numbers

Accession number: MAR.M.65-1912
Primary reference Number: 160261
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 26 January 2021 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Altar cross" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-22 08:45:41

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{{cite web|url= |title=Altar cross |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-22 08:45:41|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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