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The Wyvern Collection

Medieval and Renaissance Enamels and Other Works of Art

Paul Williamson


The fourth catalogue devoted to the Wyvern Collection, an exceptional private collection of medieval and Renaissance art, comparable to the holdings of many of the world's great museums


Works of art in enamel are among the most attractive, colourful and revealing objects of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Enamel was employed to embellish a broad array of objects, including reliquary caskets, crosses, book-covers, croziers, censers and pyxes for the church and a wide range of tableware for the secular market. The Wyvern Collection comprises many pieces of prime importance from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries.

Among the highlights in this volume are two extremely rare Romanesque enamels of c. 1160-70 from the Meuse Valley: the celebrated reliquary triptych probably originally belonging to the Bishop of Liège, and a beautiful phylactery (a reliquary designed to be suspended) with scenes from the story of the True Cross, said to have come from the famous abbey of Lobbes. Limoges enamels of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are particularly well represented, the 65 pieces making up what is undoubtedly now the finest and most comprehensive collection in private hands. The later painted enamels of Limoges, from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, include remarkable examples of the work of the principal enamellers, most notably Pierre Reymond, and the spectacular horn of St Hubert, dated 1538 and signed by Léonard Limosin, which once belonged to Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill.

The catalogue additionally includes other outstanding works of art such as an important Anglo-Carolingian chrismatory of the ninth century, a small group of enigmatic twelfth-century drinking-cups and sumptuous examples of German late medieval goldsmiths' work. Stained and painted glass roundels, Italian Renaissance ceramics, luxurious textiles and tapestries, and German and Italian armour are also catalogued. An appendix presents several important pieces, recently acquired, which supplement those published in the first two volumes.

With more than 250 objects, all specially photographed, this is more than a handbook to an especially rich part of one of the greatest private collections. It is a detailed and authoritative guide to medieval and Renaissance enamels and other works of art, a stimulus to further research and a feast for the eyes.

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'Masterly … photographs by Matt Pia provide exceptional coverage of the objects in this outstanding British private collection of medieval art … [Paul] Williamson places these works in the context of all relevant comparative objects in public and private collections on the basis of the most up-to-date current research'
Burlington Magazine

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.6 x 21.9 cm

Extent: 480 pp

Illustrations: 400

Publication date: 30 November 2021

ISBN: 9780500024560

Contents List



Explanatory Notes on the Catalogue Entries

The Catalogue

I Early Medieval Works of Art
Catalogue numbers 1–12

II Romanesque Enamels, excluding Limoges
Catalogue numbers 13–21

III Limoges Enamels
Catalogue numbers 22–87

IV Gothic and Renaissance Works of Art
Catalogue numbers 88–143

V Stained and Painted Glass
Catalogue numbers 144–152

VI Limoges Painted Enamels
Catalogue numbers 153–182

VII Ceramics
Catalogue numbers 183–189

VIII Textiles and Tapestry
Catalogue numbers 190–194

IX Later Works of Art
Catalogue numbers 195–204

X Appendix to Wyvern Collection, Volumes 1 and 2
Catalogue numbers 205–210



About the Author

Paul Williamson is Keeper Emeritus and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. His many books include Gothic Sculpture 1140-1300, Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Medieval Ivory Carvings: Early Christian to Romanesque, and two previous catalogues of the Wyvern Collection (Thames & Hudson, 2018 and 2019). He is a past Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and was appointed OBE in 2016 for services to medieval art.