workshop: Gdańsk

time of creation: ca. 1440-1450

technique: casting, forging, repoussé, engraving, gilding

Material: silver, rock crystal, garnet

dimensions: height 21.5 cm; Ø 14.5 cm

place of original origin: Gdańsk, Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary

place of storage until 1945: Middle Castle, Grand Master’s Palace, room of the Chamber or Dressing Room

current owner: National Museum in Warsaw, no. inv. SZM 993

 

Chalice on a six-leaf foot with a ruff and an openwork plinth. At the bottom of the foot there is an engraved, Gothic minuscule, Latin foundation inscription:

 

istvd. pre [c] larum ti [Bi] mense. vas. dedicatvm. andee. kunich expensis. Fabricatvm. altissime svscipe. gratvm.

The shrine nodus as a reliquary, contains bone fragments isolated with rock crystal. The goblet is enclosed by an openwork basket in the form of lilac lace. Foot fields with a figural engraved decoration depicting: Madonna with Child, St. John the Evangelist, St. Catherine, St. Ursula and St. Andrew. The last field with a round, glass container for relics. On the shaft, above and below the nodus, an arcade with plastic figures of the apostles, six at the bottom and six at the top.

The chalice – reliquary, as confirmed by the cited inscription, was funded by Andrzej Kunisch, the parish priest of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Gdańsk, for the same church. In February 1823 the historic chalice was sold by the board of the Evangelical parish of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the mayor of Gdańsk, Joachim Heinrich Weickhmann, who paid 80 thalers for it. This amount was collected among the members of West Prussian Masonic lodges (most likely only in Gdańsk). On March 5th that year, the mayor officially donated the goblet to the nascent collection of the museum in Malbork. The chalice, therefore, belonged to the core of the objects constituting the leaven of the museum collection in the Malbork castle. From the very beginning, it was stored in the Palace of the Grand Masters, in one of the recess wardrobes in the Grand Master’s Dressing Room (today there is a wooden box with a screening of a film showing a variation on knighting in the Great Refectory). Probably at the end of 1944 or in January 1945, Bernhard Schmid ordered him to be secured in a hiding place located in the treasury, in the complex of rooms of the Order’s dignitaries at the High Castle. A frame made of massive beams is located there, to which thick iron sheets are attached, so that they surround three of the four walls of the room, the chalice and other valuable monuments of Gothic art are hidden. After Malbork was taken over by the Soviets and then by the Polish administration, most likely in February 1946, the hiding place was discovered and plundered. As a result of an argument over the division of the loot, the police found out about the event, thanks to which the items were partially collected. Some of them, unfortunately, were more or less damaged, for example the revivalist diptych by Thiele Dagister von Lorich in the hiding place. Since the castle formally functioned at that time as Branch No. 1 of the Polish Army Museum, the chalice was sent to Warsaw, from where on January 25th 1947, together with other sacred monuments, it was officially transferred to the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw. It is there till this day.

Lit .: R. Bobrow Mass chalice from the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Gdańsk, ca. 1440-1450, [in:] Artistic foundations in the Teutonic state in Prussia: exhibition catalog at the Castle Museum in Malbork, June 25–12. September 2010, vol. 1, ed. B. Pospieszna, Malbork 2010, p. 197 [II.8.1.]; B. Butryn, Mass Chalice, [in:] Restoring history. The fate of the Malbork collections after World War II: exhibition catalog at the Castle Museum in Malbork, ed. A. Siuciak, Malbork 2015, p. 455 [II.2.41].

(oprac. B. Butryn)

 

The interior of the Grand Master's wardrobe in the Grand Masters Palace at the Middle Castle. A postcard from the collection of the Castle Museum in Malbork.

Chalice - reliquary. The National Museum in Warsaw, inv. Szm 993; photo after: Restoring history ..., p. 455.

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