Reliquary, about 1450
French, 15th century
Gilded copper
Bequest from the Preston Pope Satterwhite Collection 1949.30.43

How much will it cost? $2,500


This wonderful, architecturally shaped reliquary resembles a Gothic church, perched upon four lion-shaped feet. It would have originally held the precious remains of a saint or holy person.

Unfortunately, the centuries have not been kind to this unusual little repository. The surface suffers from abrasions, scratches, corrosion, and a dust and grime layer. Overall, the entire object is structurally unstable. One of the four lion feet has become completely detached, and the reliquary—while on view in the galleries—is currently resting atop the loose bit. The foot appears to have endured previous attempts at repair; the gilded copper has been abraded, with an unfortunate layer of embedded dirt and grime.

Treatment requires a comprehensive surface cleaning. Old soldering on the tiny lion foot will be removed, and the component will be securely reattached to the object, ensuring that it will stick around (and won’t be lost!) for a few more centuries.