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Chalice of Antioch and Accompanying Antioch Treasure

DATES December 06, 1935 through January 20, 1936
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
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  • October 3, 1935 The celebrated Chalice of Antioch, insured for several times the proverbial "king’s ransom" and guarded by armed men day and night, will be exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum for six weeks beginning Saturday, December 7th. The day before, it will be installed in the museum and shown to members and guests at the opening of the new Gallery of Medieval Art.

    Formerly exhibited at the Louvre, but in this country only at the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago, the Chalice bas been in the United States since 1914 when it was rushed here for safety men the German advance threatened Paris. At the Brooklyn Museum it will be shown through the courtesy of Mr. Fahim J. Kouchakji with related objects -- a lesser chalice, a large silver cross, and three silver book covers, all said to have been found in Antioch, and together with the Chalice comprising a collection which has been known for many years as ”The Antioch Treasure"

    In itself the Chalice is an object of rare beauty, 7 1/2 inches high, a masterpiece of the work of the silversmith of early Christian times.

    It consists of two parts, an inner cup of plain silver without decoration of any kind, and an elaborate outer cup in form of goblet, the foot and cup of which are composed of rich repoussee, chased and possibly cast ornament. The design is a scroll of vine branches, tendrils, and leaves, within which are involved twelve seated figures and numerous lesser motives - star, lamb, basket of loaves, etc. The figures are in Roman garb and seated. Ten of them raise their hands in Imperial salute. The other two receive this homage and are not two persons, but two representations of the same person, one young and one mature. The group has been identified as representing Evangelists, Apostles and two images of Christ enthroned, a subject which in early Christian iconography was frequently conceived in terms of a Roman Emperor receiving the homage of his subjects, and In the earliest tines was patterned after the wide spread images of the beloved and deified Caius Octavius Augustus, the contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth.

    The cup has naturally become an object of interest and religious reverence to the devout, something of a shrine to which pilgrims come from long distances as in the middle ages. It has also attracted the interest of many learned students of Christian iconography and of early Christian metal work and ornamental design. Similarities have been pointed out between the design of this chalice and of other work of the period. For instance a piece of Coptic tapestry weaving of the Third Century A.D. from the collection of Dr. Hermann Burg, now on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, shows a border of vine branches, leaves and tendrils remarkably like that on the chalice.

    An extensive literature has sprung up about the chalice, in which it has been discussed from many learned points of view. Whatever opinion one is inclined to accept, the Chalice remains an object of profound scholarly and religious interests and of great beauty, a rare and unusual example of work of the silversmith, to be reverently regarded alike by the student of religion 2nd the student of decorative art.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 10-12_1935, 117-8.
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  • December 6, 1935 Among those present at the opening of the new Gallery of Medieval Art and the exhibition of the Antioch Treasure at the Brooklyn Museum on Friday, December 6 were:

    Mr. and Mrs. Fahim Kouchakji
    Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Colton
    Mrs. Robert F. Lee
    Mr. John Tuthill
    Dr. Frank Curran
    Mr. John Hines
    Mrs. Robert Henry
    Mr. and Mrs. Milton Horn
    Mrs. Grant H. Code
    Mrs. Kelly
    Mrs. Morrin
    Mr. E. Hillman
    Miss Harriet B. Meyer
    Mrs. Schniewind
    Mrs. Carl Schniewind
    Mrs. John Marshall
    Mrs. George Auld
    Miss Elizabeth Auld
    Mr. and Mrs. Edward E. Blum
    Mr. E. Silberman
    Mr. A. Silberman
    Mr. Frank Gardner Hale
    Mrs. Frederick Sweet
    Dr. and Mrs. Guthrie
    Mr. Henry Grant
    Mr. H. David Hill
    Miss Anne Hunt
    Dr. Luke Kennedy
    Mrs. John Leech
    Mrs. Frederick K. Middlebrook
    Mrs. Carl p. Huff
    Mrs. Frederick C. Fleming
    Mrs. R. R. Belknap
    Miss Prudence Gager
    Dr. and Mrs. Stuart C. Gager
    Mrs. Hermann de Wetter
    Mr. Allen Porter
    Mrs. George Cannon
    Mrs. Henry Rice
    Mrs. John Laud
    Mrs. Keck
    Mrs. Lewis H. Porter
    Dr. W. W. Share
    Miss Mildred Woods
    Mr. John Marshall
    Mr. Stevenson
    Mr. Walter H. Crittenden
    Mr. and Mrs. Phillip N. Youtz
    Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Chase
    Mrs. Lewis W. Francis
    Mr. and Mrs. John J. Schoonhoven
    Mrs. Ralph Root
    Madame Weidel
    Mr. Edward Helwig
    Mr. Burke
    Mrs. Beryl Rogers McClaskey

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 10-12_1935, 119.
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  • December 6, 1935 The new Gallery of Medieval Art at the Brooklyn Museum was opened this afternoon (December 6) with a reception and private view for members of the Museum and guests. It will be open to the public on Saturday. At the same time the Museum placed on exhibition on the First Floor the great Chalice of Antioch and other related objects lent through the courtesy of Mr. Fahim Kouchakji. Mr. Kouchakji's collection, known as the Antioch Treasure, includes a lesser chalice, a large silver cross, and three silver book covers as well as the great chalice. All date from early Christian times and are rare and beautiful examples of the work of the ancient silversmith.

    A case of jewelry and enamels representing the work of the contemporary enamelist and goldsmith jeweler will also be on display from December 6 to December 11. The work in this case is by Mr. Frank Gardner Hale, dean of the Boston jewelers, who will lecture at the Museum at 4 o'clock on the afternoon of Monday, December 9. The subject of his discourse will be "The Art of the Jeweler and Goldsmith." In the course of his remarks he; will describe the craft of the ancient silversmith used in producing such works as the Antioch Chalice.

    The collection of medieval art, comprising Byzantine art and art of western Europe, includes sculpture, painting, mosaic, illuminated manuscript books, coins, jewelry, tapestries and other woven textiles, pottery, wrought iron, arms and armor. It represents over a thousand years of history, from the founding of Constantinople in 330 A.D. to the discovery of America.
    Some objects of later date arc included to indicate the persistent influence of the medieval tradition. The illustrated handbook describes 225 items and includes essays on the middle ages by Mr. Marvin Chauncey Ross, Curator, and Miss Louise Chase, his assistant.

    The new gallery of Medieval Art has been constructed in space formerly occupied by an open balcony running round the light well of the Classical Court on the floor below. Inner walls have been built to make this space suitable for exhibition purposes. Color is used in the backgrounds to enrich the affect of the installation. Miss Christine. Krehbiel, stylist of the Museum Staff, is responsible for the color scheme design of special cases and pedestals and for many details of arrangement.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 10-12_1935, 123.
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  • January 1, 1936 Mrs. R. Edson Doolittle will discuss the Antioch Chalice (on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum through January 6) in her lecture at the Academy of Music, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, Thursday, January 2 at 4 P.M. The subject of Mrs. Doolittle’s lecture is “Masterpieces in the Friedsam Collection in the Brooklyn Museum" She will show how the objects in this collection are related to those in the new Gallery of Medieval Art and to some other objects in the Brooklyn Museum.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 01-03_1936, 001.
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  • January 6, 1936 On account of continued public interest in the Antioch Chalice and related objects exhibited in the Main Entrance Hall of the Brooklyn Museum, arrangements have been made to continue this exhibition through January 20. The collection, known as the Antioch Treasure, is lent through the courtesy of Mr. Fahim J. Kouchakji.

    In order to acquaint visitors to the Brooklyn Museum with a number of works of art which, in the midst of other exhibits, might not receive the attention they merit, even though each is for some reason noteworthy, the Museum will exhibit one of these objects each week in the main entrance hall near the information and sales desk.

    These features will be selected from different curatorial departments, where many more objects of equal interest and importance are on permanent exhibition. The first object selected for exhibit as the Feature of the Week Is RECLINING TORSO (faience) by Alexander Archipenko. Archipenko was born at Kiev in the Ukraine in 1887. His early work centered about Paris, Nice and Berlin. In 1923, he came to New York where he established the Ecole d’Art. A continual experimenter, he works in many materials — notably marble, bronze and colored ceramic or faience. His sculpture has great vitality and purity of form.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 01-03_1936, 004.
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