‘A Large Hexagonal Spire-shaped Tabernacle or Pyx’

Ref: 20
  • Detail

    White metal, gilded copper and enamel

    Height 53.5 cm

    Probably French, nineteenth century; the gilded base and stem, Tuscan, late fifteenth century

  • Provenance

    Hollingworth Magniac (1786-1867), the Colworth Collection; Charles Magniac; Christie, Manson & Woods, Catalogue of the Renowned Collection of Works of Art, Chiefly Formed by the Late Hollingworth Magniac…, 2 July, 4 July 1892 and following days, day 7 (11 July), lot 791 (illus.); […]; Christie’s, (London), 1 July 1997, lot 121; acquired through H. Blairman & Sons; Clive and Jane Wainwright

  • Exhibited

    Works of Ancient and Mediaeval Art, Royal Society of Arts, 1850, no. 42

    Art Treasures Exhibition, Manchester, 1857

    The Clive and Jane Wainwright Collection, H. Blairman & Sons, 21 June – 14 July 2023, no. 20

  • Literature

    Catalogue of Works of Ancient and Mediaeval Art, Exhibited at the House of the Royal Society of Arts, London, 1850, no. 42.  Lent by H. Magniac, Esq., described as ‘XV Cent.’

    ‘Relics of the Middle Age.  Part the Fourth’, Art Journal, IV (1852), p. 218 (illus.)

    J.B. Waring, ed., Art Treasures of the United Kingdom from the Art Treasures Exhibition, Manchester, London, 1858, ‘Metallic Art’, pl. I, described as ‘Fifteenth century’

    Hollingworth Magniac (1786-1867), the Colworth Collection; Christie, Manson & Woods (see above), lot 791.  Based on Magniac’s opinion, the lot is described as of ‘three distinct periods’: the base Florentine, 15th century; the upper parts Flemish or French, circa 1490, and the rest in the ‘debased Gothic style of the 17th century’. The description concludes:‘This portion is finally surmounted by a crocketed spire of the recent period’.

    Michael Jones, Colworth in Context: A History of Colworth Estate from 1720-1847, Bedford, 1997, p. 168 (where the tabernacle or pyx is shown in situ, circa 1870)

    Clive and Jane Wainwright Collection, London: H. Blairman & Sons, 2023, no. 2o

  • Note

    Clive Wainwright particularly admired this quintessentially antiquarian object for what it was thought to represent during the nineteenth century, not for any notion of authenticity.  The overall form can be compared to a reliquary ‘preserved by the French sisters at Namur’, drawn by Pugin in 1851; the drawing is part of a collection acquired by the V&A in 2023.

    In 1997, Christie’s (see above) suggested that the base was Tuscan 14th century, the niche figures Flemish, 16th century, and the rest 19th century. In its present state, this object has lost small elements present at the time of the 1892 sale.