Cross of Sant Joan de le...

Gold and silver work

Pere Serra, goldsmith (active between 1366 -1401)

Cross of Sant Joan de les Abadesses

Poplar wood, silver cast, embossed and gilt and basse-taille enamel
140 x 75 x 3 cm
From the monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses (Ripollès)
MEV 855

This cross has a Latin proportion and is covered by smooth plates of gilded silver. Its arms widen towards the end and are decorated with circular medallions, where is the only figurative decoration of the object: ten plates of basse-taille enamel. They configure, on the obverse, a Calvary (Mary and John on each side of Christ, Adam rising from the grave to the feet and the pelican, an Eucharistic symbol, on top), and on the reverse, the Lamb of God surrounded by the Tetramorph. During a restoration process performed in 2016-2017 two small relic sets where found inside the superior and inferior medallions, wrapped in ancient textiles (one with a bird pattern). There were also two parchments that provide information about restoration processes performed in the 16th and 17th century. In 2018, the archivist Joan Ferrer discovered the contract of the object, revealing that it was crafted in 1388 by the silversmith Pere Serra from Girona, with the aim to replace the then highly damaged major cross of Sant Joan’s monastery.
Sant Joan’s cross is related to the cross of the collegiate church of Santa Maria de Vilabertran and to the so-called cross «de les Confraries» of Girona cathedral, due to their archaic shape combined with an execution in the Gothic style. These three objects were used as altar crosses, processional crosses and reliquaries. The one from Sant Joan is, right now, the only one in this set whose artist and date is known. However, the fact that this is the result of a reparation –or reproduction– of an older object with the same functions reveals that these are late updates to a type of triumphal cross derived from the Byzantine and late-medieval tradition.

18 Leather
19 Gold, Silver and Metalworking Arts
20 Forge Work
21 Ceramics
22 Study Galleries