Late 19th Century Gothic Revival Reliquary Casket

A Gothic Revival reliquary. Circa late 19th / early 20th century. Made of solid oak with fine carving.


A Gothic Revival reliquary. Circa late 19th / early 20th century. Made of solid oak with fine carving.

Reliquaries have been used to store relics since the Middle Ages. In sacred architecture they are often located behind the main altar in the chancel. In addition to classical, often church-like caskets, anthropomorphic, so-called “speaking” reliquaries were also made, which already inform the viewer about their contents through their own design. Mostly they were made of precious metals and decorated with rich sculptural ornaments or precious stones. One of the most famous examples of reliquaries is the Epiphany shrine of Nicholas of Verdun from the late 12th or early 13th century in Cologne Cathedral.

The reliquary offered here has an architectural structure with a rectangular ground plan. The three-sided glazed box with a dormer roof rests on a plinth. A total of 8 columns of Corinthian order form the arcades which are crowned on both long sides by 3 lancets each and enclose the lancet windows on the 3 visible sides. A small lockable door is located in the centre of the back. The roof is coloured and carved with diamond-shaped tiles with crosses. The roof prince is crowned by cross-leaf decoration set in gold. Both the plinth zone all around and the tympana of the lashings are decorated with coloured semicircular glass stones.

One stone on the back at the base is missing. Other usual iconographic elements in the form of representations of saints etc. have been omitted, thus placing the focus on the architectural structure in the Gothic style.

Remains on the back show that the reliquary was originally at least partially gilded with gold leaf. The interior still has an old turquoise/blue setting. Partly newly glazed.


76 cm high / 29.9 inch high,

77 cm wide / 30.3 inch wide,

46 cm deep / 18.1 inch deep.


Information about the origin and the original contents are unfortunately not known.

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