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Prints, Drawings, and MiniaturesSculptureApplied ArtPainting

Figure Reliquary of St Stephen

Late 12th century


Wood, silver gilt, gemstones, bloodstone, glass; h 42.5 cm

This figure in his deacon's robes represents the first Christian martyr, St Stephen. Full of dignity, wisdom and humanity, the figure stands out among the often restive and dynamic representations of the 12th century. But the monumentality and the inner tension, combined with masterfully executed decoration, make it one of the unquestioned masterpieces of Romanesque art. The figure holds a receptacle for relics, decorated with a cameo carved into bloodstone, which is considered to be Byzantine.


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