About this artwork
This rare casket was made to contain the sacred relics of Saint Adrian. It was fashioned like a miniature tomb, complete with a tiled roof and Romanesque columns. Adrian was revered as the patron saint of soldiers and a protector against the plague. A Roman officer in charge of the persecution of Christians, Adrian so admired the virtues of those whom he oppressed that he converted to their faith. After declaring himself a Christian, Adrian was arrested and brutally martyred in the early fourth century. Unflinchingly illustrated on the sides of this reliquary (and reinforced by the inscription) is the story of Adrian’s trial, his dismemberment, and the transport of his remains to a city near Constantinople by his devoted wife, Saint Natalia.
The casket’s design was hammered out from the reverse on thin sheets of silver, a technique called repoussé. The figures were reduced to simple, monumental forms composed of convex bulges, reflecting the style of Romanesque relief sculpture and manuscript illumination in northern Spain.
- Reliquary Casket of Saints Adrian and Natalia
- Spain (Object made in)
- Silver and oak core
- Inscription: MARTIRIS EXIMINI SACRUM/QUI MARTIR FACTUS SPREVIT EUM/[JA]CET HIC ADRIAN
- 15.9 × 25.4 × 14.5 cm (6 1/4 × 10 × 5 3/4 in.)
- Kate S. Buckingham Endowment