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The Domestication of an Itinerant Object: The True Cross Reliquary from the Louvre Museum

Zina, Uzdenskaya

Revista Hiperboreea, 2017, Vol.4(1), pp.23-40 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    The Domestication of an Itinerant Object: The True Cross Reliquary from the Louvre Museum
  • Author: Zina, Uzdenskaya
  • Description: The Reliquary of the True Cross from the Louvre Museum serves as a good illustration of some key ideas which are of high interest for modern art historians studying medieval art. These ideas are: hybridity (syncretism, compositeness), portability (mobility), circulation, and transparency (crossing borders). The Reliquary is a product of a complicated cross-cultural exchange with more than one participant. First of all, it is a composite, or hybrid, object. The cross-shaped reliquary was produced in the Holy Land in the twelfth century, most likely in Jerusalem, while the casket, in which the cross is housed, was produced later, probably in a South Italian or Sicilian workshop of the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. Furthermore, the reliquary belongs to a big family of portable objects, which are defined by the feature of portability, and which add to its material value significant symbolical value when they are transported beyond the borders – geographical, cultural, or political – of the region of their production. In order to better understand the reliquary and its value, I answer two sets of questions. First is the set of “traditional” questions of Western European art history, namely authorship, style, date, and periodization. Then I consider this reliquary as an “object without borders,” in terms of Jennifer Purtle, and find answers to the kinds of questions related to the specificity of portable objects: What is the object within the context in which it exists? How and why does an object move beyond borders? What meaning and what cultural and economic value accrue to an object when it exists without borders? Answering these questions, I show how the reliquary moved from one cultural and political context to another, being re-shaped and re-considered on the course of its travels
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: History ; Visual Arts

  • Identifier: E-ISSN: 2284-5666
  • Relation: Revista Hiperboreea, 2017, Vol.4(1), pp.23-40

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