Near East / Holy Land, Byzantine Empire, ca. 9th to 11th century CE. A pair of bronze repousse panels from the upper and lower arms of a large processional cross. These would have been attached to a wooden frame, with the perforated sides used to attach them. Each features a series of devotional images. At the top of the upper fragment, a figure of the crucified Christ is identified by the inscription "XC". Beneath the arms of the cross stand two nimbate women, one with the incised inscription "MP THY". Below them is a nimbate, draped figure flanked by incised inscriptions "P ? P/POC" and further down is yet another nimbate and draped figure, labeled "PABLO/C". Size of the larger (the upper): 3.5" W x 15.75" H (8.9 cm x 40 cm)
The lower fragment has at its upper edge a nimbate, draped figure of St. Andrew with an incised inscription "ANDP/EAC". He stands over a large cross with rosettes at the corners and foliage below. At the very bottom of the fragment Mary stands with her arms raised under an arch with spirally fluted columns. Her inscription reads, "MHP/THY". The Byzantine Empire was established in the 4th century CE when the Emperor Constantine, also known as Saint Constantine, Christianized the Roman Empire and pronounced the city of Constantinople in Byzantium as the capital. The visual culture of this era demonstrates a synthesis of classical Greek, Roman, and Christian influences. This cross was made at a time when tremendous effort and innovation went into producing art with Christian themes.
Provenance: ex-collection of Janet Zakos, Switzerland, 1970s
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Both panels are fragments as shown, displayed together. Slight bending to edges and a few tiny tears/fissures in the surfaces of both, notably the lower part of the upper panel. The backs of both the lower and upper part have been repaired. Remaining motifs are all well preserved and clear with a rich, dark patina.