The Cleveland Museum of Art presents the exhibition "Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe", held at the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall until January 17, 2011.
Organized by The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, and The British Museum, London, the exhibition offers its visitors a look upon the importance of religion and its related objects during the Middle Ages, and their role in the development of Christianity, which emerged as a powerful new religion in the Late Roman world.
Several exhibition programs available throughout the event will enable visitors to further explore the theme.
Some of the early Christians who died defending their faith were later considered saints and martyrs and artists sought to bridge the gap between heaven and earth by fashioning special containers for holy matter. Reliquaries, often made of, or covered in precious metals and encrusted with gems like emeralds or rubies, would contain the relics of martyrs and saints, connecting believers with their devotions. Sometimes a reliquary could assume a similar form to the contained relic.
The shrines and places holding these reliquaries have in some cases become not only places of religious devotion, visited by pilgrims worldwide, but also of cultural and historical interest.
Exploring how medieval artists expressed the sacred power of fragmented remains and the role that relics played in the development of the visual arts, Treasures of Heaven shows 135 extraordinary works of late antique, Byzantine, and Western medieval art, including precious metalwork objects, paintings, sculptures, and illuminated manuscripts, lent by public and private collections from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, United States, and Vatican.
After Cleveland (OH), the "Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe" exhibition will travel to The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore where will be show between February 13, 2011 and May 15, 2011, following The British Museum, London from June 23, 2011 through October 9, 2011.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities, and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
Image above: Bust Reliquary of St. Baudime (detail), c. 1180–1200. Romanesque (French, Auvergne). Gilded bronze, gems, and enamel with a wood core; 73 x 43 cm. Puy-le-Dôme, Parish Church of Saint-Nectaire, Treasury. © Francis Debaisieux, France