Friday, July 24, 2015

British Museum's perfect home for the Rothchild's Holy Thorn Reliquary

By Roderick Conway Morris
The Waddesdon Bequest includes the Holy Thorn Reliquary, made to house a supposed thorn from Christ’s crown. Credit Waddesdon Bequest/Trustees of the British Museum
UNITED KINGDOM---Of the many collections amassed during the 19th century by the various branches of the Rothschild family in their 45 mansions scattered across Europe, Ferdinand’s is the last to remain intact. Among these is the Holy Thorn Reliquary, an astonishing confection of gold, precious stones, rock crystal and numerous tiny enameled figures, made around 1400 to house a supposed thorn from Christ’s crown of thorns. In 1860 it was sent by the Imperial Treasury in Vienna for repair, but the unscrupulous restorer made a copy and secretly sold the original, which was later acquired by Ferdinand. That the baron had unwittingly bought the original was only confirmed in 1959, when the copy was brought to the British Museum for comparison. [link]