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Mino da Fiesole
Italian (1429 - 1484) Primary

Relief of the Tabernacle or Ciborium in the Medici Chapel Church of S. Croce

Late19th Century, After original of Mid-15th Century
Mid 15th century
State: Reproduction

101 in. x 42 in. (256.54 cm x 106.68 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: X.503
Geography: Europe, Italy, Firenze (Florence)
Classification: Fine and Visual Arts; Sculptures
This plaster reproduction is of the tabernacle of Santa Croce in Florence. The tabernacle creates the illusion that the four pilasters holding up the entablature and lunette surround a three dimensional space. Within four angels holding torches look expectantly at a rectangular space, which may represent the tabernacle, or a door leading to one, in which the host (sacramental bread) would be stored. The space is inarguably a sacred one as indicated by the dove, which represents the Holy Spirit, the tabernacle canopy, the papal tiara, and a sun design.

Above the tabernacle scene, an alternating pattern of winged putti heads and palmettes fills the entablature and higher up in the lunette two winged putti heads look toward a central medallion. Below the canopied space with angels there are two inscriptions that corroborate the visual evidence. The lower inscription, written on a scroll held by an angel, reads, “O host of salvation” [O SALVTARIS HOSTIA], most likely referring to the sacramental bread (host). The second inscription above the angel reads, “here is the living bread which descends from heaven” [HIC EST PANIS VIVVS Q DECELO DESCENDIT], referring to the location of the host near the tabernacle. At the bottom, below the winged palmette, the artist Mino da Fiesole signed the piece [OPUS MINI].

The original tabernacle in the Santa Croce in Florence was created c. 1460 in marble by the Tuscan sculptor Mino da Fiesole (1429-1484). The plaster cast of the tabernacle was most likely taken in the late 19th century, when it was common for museums to collect casts of famous works of art for study. Plaster casts were affordable and accurate copies that permitted the side by side comparison of works located across the world from each other. The display of casts has since have fallen out of favor (most museums have placed their casts in storage and only display originals), yet their didactic and documentary value endures.

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Relief of the Tabernacle or Ciborium in the Medici Chapel Church of S. Croce |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=8/3/2021 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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