About This Artwork

Spainish, León

Reliquary Casket of Saints Adrian and Natalia, 1100/50

Silver and oak core
15.9 x 25.4 x 14.5 cm (6 1/4 x 10 x 5 3/4 in.)

Kate S. Buckingham Endowment, 1943.65

This reliquary casket celebrates the martyrdom of Saint Adrian and must have been made to house relics of the saint, who was a Roman soldier. The story of his martyrdom is boldly worked in silver repoussé on the four sides of the casket. On one end, Adrian proclaims his conversion to Christianity before a Roman imperial official, a deed punishable by death in the early fourth century. The two long sides of the casket display the dismemberment and subsequent death of Adrian and his companions in unflinching detail. On the other short side, Adrian’s wife Natalia safeguards his severed hand as she flees in a boat. As a patron saint of soldiers Adrian’s cult was widespread. Comparison to Romanesque manuscript illumination suggests that the casket, with its striking narrative, was made in northern Spain.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces of Craftsmanship from Medieval Church Treasuries, October 8–November 30, 1942 [no cat.].

Art Institute of Chicago, Medieval Decorative Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, October 2, 1985–January 5, 1986, no. 24.

Leningrad, State Hermitage Museum, and Moscow, State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Medieval Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago, May 10–July 10, 1990, August 14–October 14, 1990, cat. 34.

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art of Medieval Spain, A.D. 500–1200, 1993, cat. 122.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Devotion and Splendor: Medieval Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, September 25, 2004-January 3, 2005, cat. 11.

Publication History

José Gudiol, “Una Antigua producciòn Catalana,” Museum: Revista mensual de arte Español antiquo y moderno y de la vida artistica contemporanea 4 (1914–15), pp. 38–39, figs. B–C.

Ian Wardropper and Lynn Springer Roberts, European Decorative Arts in The Art Institute of Chicago, (Chicago, 1991), pp. 10, 11, 12 (ill.).

Georg Swarzenski, “Die Sammlung Harry Fuld in Frankfurt,” Das Kunstblatt (1918; reprint, Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1978), p. 88, pl. 90.

Meyric R. Rogers, “Decorative Arts,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago: Report for the Year 1943 38, 3 (1944), p. 17.

Oswald Goetz, “Medieval Enamels and Metalwork in the Buckingham Collection,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 38, 7 (December 1944), pp. 110–12, figs. 7–8.

Meyric R. Rogers and Oswald Goetz, Handbook to the Lucy Maud Buckingham Medieval Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1945), p. 65, no. 21, pls. 26–28.

Helen Foss, “News Reports,” College Art Journal 8, 4 (summer 1949), p. 306.

José Gudiol, “Basic Spanish in the Middle Ages,” Art News 53, 8 (December 1954), p. 20.

“Early Spanish Treasures at the Cloisters,” Connoisseur 136, 547 (September 1955), pp. 15–16 (ill.).

Ruth Butler, “Frühe spanische Kunstschätze in “The Cloisters” von New York,” Die Kunst und das schöne heim 55, 12 (September 1955), pp. 444–45 (ill.).

Marian C. Donnelly and Cyril S. Smith, “Notes on a Romanesque Reliquary,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 58 (1961), pp. 109–19, figs. 1-4.

Jesús Hernández Perrera, "Los Artes industriales españolas de la época románca," Goya 43–45 (1961), pp. 98-112, ill. p. 105.

Doris Athineos, “Nine Museums, Nine Splendid Works: Museum Administrators Single out their very Favorite Pieces,” Diversion 157 (May 2001), p. 158.

Centro de Estudios del Románico, Aguilar de Campóo, Los monasterios románicos, Palencia, Spain (2001), pp. 148-149.

Christina Nielsen, ed. Devotion and Splendor: Medieval Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 30, 2 (2004), p. 15.

Thomas E. A. Dale, "Meyric Rogers, Oswald Goetz, and the Rehabilitation of the Lucy Maud Buckingham Memorial Gothic Room at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1940s," in Christina Nielsen, ed., To Inspire and Instruct: A History of Medieval Art in Midwestern Museums (Newcastle, UK, 2008), pp. 118-130.

Ownership History

Julius Böhler, Munich, by 1914 [see Gudiol 1914–15]. Harry Fuld (d. 1932), Frankfurt, by 1918 [see Swarzenski 1918]; by descent to his widow, Lucie Mayer-Fuld (d. 1966), Frankfurt, Berlin, and New York, 1932-1942 [according to incoming shipping receipt in curatorial file]; on loan to museum starting October 17, 1942 [according to incoming receipt in Registrar's file]; sold, through Raphael Stora, to the Art Institute, 1942 [according to incoming shipping receipt, mentioned above].

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