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Unidentified Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John Gellatly 1929.8.247 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 52A

Luce Center Label

This necklace was originally thought to be from the early Byzantine period of the sixth century AD. Recent research, however, suggests that it is probably a copy done in the late nineteenth century. It is unusual for Byzantine artifacts to be replicated in this way, but at the turn of the twentieth century, many Russian museums were publishing their collections for the first time and copies were likely made from the photographs. Religious art flourished during the Byzantine period, and the interiors of churches were lavishly decorated to reflect the grandeur of heaven. As a result, altarpieces, icons, jewelry, and mosaics gleamed with gold, precious stones, and rich colors. Wealthy people in the Byzantine Empire wore jewelry containing icons of sacred figures as symbols of their devotion. This necklace is composed of a series of gold medallions, on which the images of Christ, his twelve apostles, and Constantine’s Cross have been illustrated in glass mosaic and gold paint.


Religion - New Testament - apostle

Religion - New Testament - Christ

decorative arts - jewelry