(French, 15th century)
early 15th century
oak with traces of gilding, pigment, iron hardware
36 x 13 in diameter
91.44 x 33.02 cm
Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
This hexagonal oak tabernacle, ornately patterned with openwork sides of flamboyant tracery, rosettes, and fleurs-de-lis, likely held an object of devotion, such as a monstrance (a vessel containing the consecrated bread of the Eucharist) or a reliquary (a vessel containing a relic of Christ or one of his saints). Its detailed stylization and delicate tracery embody the architectural ideals of the Gothic age—thin and elaborate walls that suggest the celestial rather than the terrestrial. Such —an effect is only rarely achieved through large-scale architecture. This three-foot-high tabernacle transcends such structural constraints, standing elegantly as a symbol of the heavenly city of Jerusalem and as a house for the specific saint, or even Christ, held within its walls.