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Description

This hexagonal jewel would have been suspended around the neck or from a belt in such a way that the owner could easily study and manipulate its parts. A group of similar pendants composed of tiny and fanciful shapes (stars, squares, or triangles) in delicate silver-gilded filigree invites devotees to explore the images behind and inside the objects.

Because of the difficulty of the verre églomisé technique, and because of this pendant’s diminutive size, the paintings are not detailed.  This pendant was likely a devotional instrument of, in effect, perpetual use. It was intended to be taken up for daily prayers—both devotions to the Passion and a litany of prayers of intercession to a set of well-known and beloved saints. The original gilding is almost entirely missing in most examples.

It might once have had a double lantern form, and if so, surely the lower portion opened so that the saints on the exterior and bottom could be “addressed” with prayers. In the center is what appears to be a sainted Dominican nun or abbess wearing a black rosar with attached cross. Three of the figures on the exterior have halos. All are difficult to identify. On the interior, more saints, again male and female (none with visible haloes, but most likely still to be identified as saints) surround a striking painting of the Passion instruments. Silhouetted in black against bright gold, the Arma Christi grouping is condensed, containing only the Holy Face, the ladder, the Crown of Thorns, the nails, the spear and the lance with the sponge (the latter two crossing one another to form an X-shape).

Provenance

Collection of Pablo Bosch Barrau (1842-1915), who bequeathed a large part of his collection to the Prado Museum, Madrid.

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