Detail View: The AMICA Library: Plaque Showing the Pentecost

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Nationality: 
European; French
Creator Name-CRT: 
Plaque Showing the Pentecost
Full View
Creation Date: 
ca. 1150-1175
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Champlevé enamel on copper gilt
Classification Term: 
Style or Period: 
4 1/16 x 4 1/16 in. (10.3 x 10.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
The Cloisters Collection, 1965

Traditionally renowned for their production of outstandingly beautiful works in champlevé enamel, artists of the Meuse valley (in modern-day France and Belgium) created this plaque illustrating the Pentecost. According to the Book of Acts 2:2-4, Christ's apostles had gathered together fifty days after Easter, when "suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." This depiction of that miraculous event shows the hand of God appearing to the disciples; Peter, holding keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, is seated in the center of the architectural setting, with only five other apostles beside him. (The other six are suggested by partially visible halos.) Each face is individually characterized-an unusual and forward-looking way of heightening the sacred drama. A rich and varied spectrum of colors-more than twelve hues-further enlivens the delicate, animated style of engraving. The play of light upon such colorful imagery gives the plaque the aura of a sparkling jewel. The crowning piece of a number of Mosan enamels in the Museum's collection, this work was part of an extensive series of plaques that once decorated a single large object, perhaps an altarpiece or pulpit.

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