Enquiry about object: 5514

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Armenian Enamelled & Filigree Silver Holy Altar Box

Armenia/Ottoman Turkey
18th-19th century

length: 7cm, width: 5.3cm, height: 2.6cm, weight: 61.45g



UK art market

This small oval-shaped box with a hinged lid is of silver. It is decorated with pearled silver wire filigree, and blue, white and pale green champleve enamel. Most probably it held incense or perhaps a fragment of the host and would have adorned a holy altar table or was kept in a wealthy Armenian and possibly a Georgian home.

It belongs to a rare group of enamelled silver items produced for the Orthodox Armenian or Georgian altar, most probably by Armenian craftsmen.

The lid is decorated with a central figure of May holding the infant Jesus. The sides are decorated with three cartouches chased with seraphim heads.

The box is in fine condition without losses or repairs.

Examples of Orthodox silver with related enamel-work are illustrated in Hassiotis (2010).

Also, see here an Armenian enamelled silver cup and saucer that sold at Christie’s London ‘Art of the Islamic & Indian Worlds’ sale, April 21, 2016.

The altar cross here is in excellent condition; enamel losses are minor, and there are no repairs.


Hassiotis, I.K., et al., Aspects of Armenian Art: The Kalfayan Collection, Museum of Byzantine Culture, 2010.

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