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Enamels Champlevé

Champlevé is an enameling technique in which troughs or cells are carved, etched, die struck, or cast into the surface of a metal object, and filled with vitreous enamel. The piece is then fired until the enamel fuses, and when cooled the surface of the object is polished.
A frequent use of champlevé technique is first seen in early Celtic art in Europe, from the 3rd or 2nd century BC.
The name comes from the French for "raised field", meaning background, though the technique in practice lowers the area to be enameled rather than raising the rest of the surface.
The technique has been used since ancient times and in Romanesque art its potential was fully used, decorating caskets, plaques, and vessels.
Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine
155 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Brooch in the Form of a Rabbit

Small brooches, often in whimsical animal forms, were worn both by Roman soldiers stationed in the provinces and by the native population. Though brooches in these forms appear throughout the Roman world, the d... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Made in probably Cologne, Germany

Plaque with Saint Peter in Glory

Made in Limoges, France

One of a Pair of Traveling Candlesticks

The legs of the candlesticks fold, allowing for flat storage of the object. Seven different coats of arms are represented, but some of them are inaccurately drawn, suggesting they were chosen purely as design m... more

Pyx

The coats of arms on this pyx are fictive—they are used simply as a decorative element. They may seem a curious choice for an object meant to hold the bread consecrated as Christ’s body during the mass, but the... more

Pricket Candlestick with Birds, Vines, and Leaves

Made in possibly Hildesheim, Germany

Terret (Rein Guide)

The Celts’ use of chariots in warfare was legendary in the ancient world. This terret, made at the time of Rome’s conquest of Britain, comes from one of numerous Celtic workshops that specialized in the product... more

Disk Brooch

Millefiore enameling was widely popular in Gaul, where it was often used to decorate disk brooches and vessels. In this technique, the artist fuses together glass rods of different colors. The multicolored rods... more

Colonnette from a Reliquary Shrine

Made in Cologne, Germany

Vase

This vase, part of a larger treasure, was excavated in 1849 in a French village only thirty-five miles from Limoges, a city that became synonymous with champlevé enamel work later in the Middle Ages. Now disper... more

One of a Pair of Traveling Candlesticks

The legs of the candlesticks fold, allowing for flat storage of the object. Seven different coats of arms are represented, but some of them are inaccurately drawn, suggesting they were chosen purely as design m... more

Portable Reliquary of Saint Vincent

The small size of this reliquary and its fitted case (1984.24.2) indicated that it was intended to be carried on the owner's person. The enameled plaque reads: "de sepulchro s[an]c[ti]/ vi[n]ce[n]cii e de carne... more

Seated Virgin and Child

Made in Limoges, France

Virgin and Child

Through the course of the thirteenth century, goldsmiths in Limoges increasingly specialized in the creation of gilded copper sculpture—freestanding, as here, or in relief, with enamel used only as a decorative... more

Book Cover Plaque with Christ in Majesty

The earliest known textual reference to the famous enamels produced in the city of Limoges during the twelfth through the fourteenth century concerns a book cover seen in the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris in t... more

Colonnette from a Reliquary Shrine

Made in Cologne, Germany

Pricket Candlestick with Birds, Vines, and Leaves

Made in possibly Hildesheim, Germany

Plaque with the Annunciation

Though recent publications give Italy as the possible origin of this piece, the style, iconography, background and spelling of the inscription compare closely to Catalonian frescoes. Made in Central Italy; Made... more

Candlestick

Made in Limoges, France

Harness Ornaments

This large group of enamels, noteworthy for the vivid colors and exuberant presentation of classical motifs, likely adorned the yoke and harness of a ceremonial chariot. Made in Thrace (possibly)

Colonnette from a Reliquary Shrine

Made in Cologne, Germany

Hexagonal Pin

Made in Gaul

Reliquary

Made in Limoges, France

Dragon-Shaped Brooch

With sinuous, asymmetrical designs and swirling arrangements of commas, circles, and fan shapes, this brooch conveys the pervasiveness of a Celtic aesthetic in the Empire's western provinces in the first centuries A.D.

Zoomorphic Brooch

Small brooches, often in whimsical animal forms, were worn both by Roman soldiers stationed in the provinces and by the native population. Though brooches in these forms appear throughout the Roman world, the d... more

Plaque with Saint John the Evangelist

The Latin inscriptions name John and the opening words of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word.” Made in Rhine valley, Germany

Disk Brooch

Millefiore enameling was widely popular in Gaul, where it was often used to decorate disk brooches and vessels. In this technique, the artist fuses together glass rods of different colors. The multicolored rods... more

Roundel with the Virgin

Made in Meuse Valley, Netherlands

Tabernacle of Cherves

This tabernacle is the most celebrated object from the Treasure of Cherves, found in 1896 near the site of a ruined priory of the Grandmont order of monks in Gandory. The accomplished openwork medallions depict... more

Plaque with Christ Blessing

Made in Limoges, France

Disk Brooch

Millefiore enameling was widely popular in Gaul, where it was often used to decorate disk brooches and vessels. In this technique, the artist fuses together glass rods of different colors. The multicolored rods... more

Brooch in the Form of a Dog

Small brooches, often in whimsical animal forms, were worn both by Roman soldiers stationed in the provinces and by the native population. Though brooches in these forms appear throughout the Roman world, the d... more

Seal Box

Made in Gaul

Brooch in the Form of a Peacock

Small brooches, often in whimsical animal forms, were worn both by Roman soldiers stationed in the provinces and by the native population. Though brooches in these forms appear throughout the Roman world, the d... more

Bow Brooch

Small brooches, often in whimsical animal forms, were worn both by Roman soldiers stationed in the provinces and by the native population. Though brooches in these forms appear throughout the Roman world, the d... more

Brooch

Made in Gaul

Openwork Brooch

Made in Gaul

Six-Sided Pyx

Small six-sided boxes such as this one, with millefiore enamel, have been found all over Europe, including Germany, Poland, and the Ukraine. In this technique, the artist fuses together glass rods of different ... more

Bead

Made in Byzantine Egypt

Cross Terminal

Made in Limoges, France

Chasse

Made in Limoges, France

Cross Terminal

Made in Limoges, France

Combat Between Dragon and Dog (one of five medallions from a coffret)

The blue and green beasts, locked in battle and compressed into these circular medallions, are emblematic of goldsmiths’ work created at Conques under the patronage of Abbot Boniface (r. 1107–after 1121). On a ... more

Quadruped (one of five medallions from a coffret)

The blue and green beasts, locked in battle and compressed into these circular medallions, are emblematic of goldsmiths’ work created at Conques under the patronage of Abbot Boniface (r. 1107–after 1121). On a ... more

Winged Dragon (one of five medallions from a coffret)

The blue and green beasts, locked in battle and compressed into these circular medallions, are emblematic of goldsmiths’ work created at Conques under the patronage of Abbot Boniface (r. 1107–after 1121). On a ... more

Plaque with the Holy Women at the Sepulchre

The twelve surviving plaques in this series are divided among London, Paris, and New York. The group may have originally decorated a large cross base or a pulpit. Made in Meuse valley, Netherlands

Plaque with the Baptism of Jesus

The twelve surviving plaques in this series are divided among London, Paris, and New York. The group may have originally decorated a large cross base or a pulpit. Made in Meuse valley, Netherlands

Chasse of Champagnat

Christ appears in the center of the principal face of the reliquary beneath the roof plaque, which depicts the hand of God flanked by two angels swinging censers. Distinguished by his cruciform nimbus, he hold... more

Plaque with Saints James, Matthew, and Thomas

The Latin inscriptions name three of Jesus’ apostles: James, Matthew, and Thomas. Made in Meuse valley, Netherlands

Crucifix

Made in possibly Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain

Plaque with Saint Paul and His Disciples

The inscription on this plaque refers to the epistles Paul addressed to the various early Christian communities (Romans, Corinthians, Philippians) among whom he traveled. Other related plaques, now dispersed, p... more

Plaque from a Portable Altar with Scenes from the Life of Jesus

Abbreviated Latin inscriptions identify each scene. Reading clockwise from the lower left, they include scenes from both the Christmas and Easter stories. Portable altars were carried by priests when traveling ... more

Plaque with the Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew

This rare and highly important plaque epitomizes a key moment in the history of medieval art, when goldsmiths—who had traditionally used enamels only as a substitute for colored gems—realized the full potential... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Plaque from a Portable Altar with Scenes from the Life of Jesus

Abbreviated Latin inscriptions identify each scene. Reading clockwise from the lower left, they include scenes from both the Christmas and Easter stories. Portable altars were carried by priests when traveling ... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Pendant Medallion

Similar medallions have been excavated in Spain as well as in England. Made in Limoges, France

Cross

Made in Limoges, France

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Central Plaque of a Cross

The rose-colored face of Christ, his chalk-white torso with fine lines of gilded copper that articulate the interior and exterior lines of his body, and the knee-length deep-blue loincloth link this cross to a ... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local saints. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic... more

Chasse with The Crucifixion and Christ in Majesty

The shape of this chasse, or container for the relics of a saint, is one of the most commonly produced during the Middle Ages, and the scenes of the Crucifixion, Christ in Majesty, and Apostles are so standard ... more

Coffret

Rarely do such handsome enamel chests survive intact. Replete with charming images of animals and warriors, this example may have been used by either a worldly prince or a church official. Made in Limoges, France

Pyx

Made in Limoges, France

Plaque from a Chasse

Made in Limoges, France