Byzantine art, Cosimo Merlini and Bernardo Holzmann, Cross of the Grand Duchess

Cosimo Merlini - Bernardo Holzmann - Byzantine masters
17th-18th cent.
Original location
Baptistery of Saint John, treasure
Gold, copper, bronze, enamel, gems, crystal
Embossing, casting, chasing, engraving, enamelling, grinding, carving, setting
Height: 130 cm; Width: 74 cm; Depth: 74 cm; Thickness: 28 cm;
Gold, copper, bronze, enamel, gems, crystal

Reliquary known as the Passion or The Grand Duchess’ Crucifix in gold, polychrome enamels and gems; executed in different stages between the 11th and 12th centuries by Byzantine artists,  in the 17th century by Cosimo Merlini and by Bernardo Holzmann in the 18th. The reliquary preserves and displays relics from the Passion of Christ, commemorating the sacrifice made by the Son of God, who died and rose again for the salvation of mankind. A thorn from the crown and a splinter of wood from the true cross are preserved here. These relics probably arrived in Florence in the 15th century from Constantinople. The  Cross shaped reliquary in which they are kept was commissioned by the Grand Duke Cosimo II and his wife Marie Magdalene of Austria, hence the name. Given the importance of the relics only the finest materials were used: gold, enamel and gems.

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Cappella delle Reliquie