Reliquary Tabernacle with the Virgin and Child

Naddo Ceccarellica. 1350 (Medieval)

The Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, United States

Naddo Ceccarelli, a talented follower of Simone Martini (ca. 1284-1344), was one of a handful of painters to create reliquaries that emulated the work produced by goldsmiths. The format that Ceccarelli adopted in this painting is filled with allusions to works traditionally executed in other media, particularly those that combined architecture and sculpture. The object's thirty-four clear glass windows, enamel-like colors, and gilded architecture give it the appearence of a sacred vessel fashioned from precious materials. The gabled enclosure around the central painting of Christ and the Virgin explicitly draws on forms usually associated with tabernacles or shrines that were erected over an altar to display relics or the consecrated Host. The frame, covered with gold leaf, suggests the shape of a chapel filled with heavenly light and contains saints' relics within glass-covered cavities. Each relic is accompanied by a note recording its origin and significance. Unlike most Italian panel paintings, this reliquary would have been freestanding on the altar. It is "finished" on the back with a painted marble design and is supported by its own base. For more information on this piece, please see Zeri catalogue number 25, pp. 43-44.


  • Title: Reliquary Tabernacle with the Virgin and Child
  • Date Created: ca. 1350 (Medieval)
  • Physical Dimensions: w11.7 x h3 x d9.35 cm
  • Type: reliquaries; paintings
  • Rights: Acquired by Henry Walters, 1920, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: tempera and gold leaf on wood panel with glass, paper, and relics
  • Provenance: Arnold Seligmann, Rey and Co., New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1920, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
  • Place of Origin: Siena, Italy
  • ExhibitionHistory: Reliquaries and Ritual: Medieval Objects of Devotion. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984-1985; Treasures of Heaven. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; The British Museum, London. 2010-2011
  • Artist: Naddo Ceccarelli

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