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Altar frontal from Basel cathedral

This altar frontal, an exceptional imperial gift for Basel cathedral inspired by antiquity and Byzantium, dates from the 1st half of the 11th century.

The opulence of the gold, both a precious material and a symbol of light in the Middle Ages, crafted using the “repoussé” technique in bas-relief, glorifies the Christ surrounded by archangels and St Benedict. The Virtues are depicted as busts within medallions.

The German Emperor Henry II (or Henry III), the donor, and his wife are shown prostrated at the feet of Christ, signifying their personal devotion. 

From the treasury of Basel cathedral.

Acquired in 1854.

Inventory no.: Cl. 2350
Height: 120 cm
Width: 177.5 cm
Depth: 13 cm
Periods: 1st quarter of the 11th century; 2nd quarter of the 11th century