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The Wyvern Collection: Byzantine and Sasanian Silver, Enamels and Works of Art

Marco Aimone


The definitive catalogue of one of the most important collections of Byzantine decorative art in private hands

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Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages are now understood as times of extraordinary skill and creativity in the decorative arts. In the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) artists and craftsmen transitioned from ‘Roman’ to ‘Byzantine’ art and inspired a move from naturalism to a more hieratic and symbolic style, drawing on the deep artistic links connecting the Mediterranean world and the East.

The many spectacular artefacts from this period in the Wyvern Collection are luxury objects, most commissioned by wealthy patrons or the Church, ranging in date from the fourth century to around 1300. Masterpieces of great significance for art history, including a 5th-century Artemis missorium, previously unpublished, and an 11th-century enamelled enkolpion from Constantinople are among the highlights of the collection. Other extraordinary objects – Late Roman chariot decorations, a stone funerary door from Syria and brooches brought across Europe by the families of Roman soldiers – complete this artistic panorama of the great Mediterranean and Persian civilizations, whose creative influence extended to the far west of the Islamic world.

The catalogue, by Byzantine metalwork expert Marco Aimone, is augmented by three essays from technical specialists: Jack Ogden (enamelling), Peter Northover (metallurgy) and Erica Cruikshank Dodd (hallmarks). Rika Gyselen also contributes readings of Persian inscriptions.

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'Authoritative, erudite … brims with surprises and visual delights'
The Burlington Magazine

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.6 x 21.9 cm

Extent: 552 pp

Publication date: 15 October 2020

ISBN: 9780500252499

Contents List

Foreword • Preface • Notes to Reader

The Catalogue

i Enamels, Catalogue numbers 1–11

ii Late Roman Vessels, Catalogue numbers 12–31

iii Byzantine Vessels, Catalogue numbers 32–44

iv Sasanian and Early Islamic Vessels, Catalogue numbers 45–63

v Liturgical and Paraliturgical Objects, Catalogue numbers 64–85

vi Devotional Objects, Catalogue numbers 86–95

vii Furnishings and Architectonic Sculptures, Catalogue numbers 96–118

viii Varia, Catalogue numbers 119–127

ix Later Objects, Catalogue numbers 128–130

Between Byzantium and Persia: The Wyvern Peacock Plate Marco Aimone

Byzantine Inlaid Enamels Jack Ogden

The Silver Vessels: Analyses and Technical Reports Peter Northover

Silver Objects with Stamps Erica Cruikshank Dodd with Marco Aimone

Concordance, Epigraphic Conventions, Units of Weight, Notes, Bibliography, Profiles

Map of the Mediterranean Area, the Middle East and Central Asia

About the Author

Marco Aimone is a scholar of Late Antique and Medieval archaeology. He has published extensively on the precious metalwork and epigraphy of the Migration Period. Aimone has been has been a senior advisory curator for the Wyvern Collection since 2015.