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Made by: Iver Winfeldt Buch

On view in: Dacha

About this object

In December 1790, Catherine the Great commissioned Iver Windfeldt Buch to produce two liturgical sets, each comprising a chalice and several other pieces necessary for celebrating the divine liturgy. One of these sets was intended for the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Catherine presented the other set, which included this chalice, to the Trinity Cathedral in the Aleksandr Nevskii Monastery in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1791. To construct the set, Catherine provided Buch with gold and diamonds from the State Treasury; carved gems representing scenes from the life of Christ, saints, and angels, which came from her private collection. Of the gems, a thirteenth-century Byzantine cameo of the Archangel Michael is the oldest. The remaining ones are mostly seventeenth- and eighteenth-century examples, some no doubt contemporary with the chalice.

Realistic stalks of wheat and bunches of grapes, held together at the knop by a wreath of acanthus leaves bound with crossed ribbons, decorate the stem of the chalice. The wheat and grapes allude to the communion bread and wine, symbols of the body and blood of Christ.Inscribed around the lip of the chalice is a text in Old Church Slavonic: "Drink of it all of you! This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins!" Inserted around bowl are four carved stones: Archangel Michael in greyish chalcedony, Baptism of Christ in bloodstone intaglio, Flagellation of Christ at Column in bloodstone high relief, Crucifixion in bloodstone intaglio. Diamond-studded floral sprays and a latticework design inside an oval row of diamonds surround the carved stones. Acanthus leaves cast and applied in matte gold and rosettes of diamonds separate the cameos and intaglios. Inserted around the base are four more carved stones: Saints Justa and Rufina in blue cast glass, Annunciation in green nephrite, Madonna and Child in carnelian, Biblical subject in white chalcedony. Stones date from different periods. The 13th century Byzantine cameo of the Archangel Michael is the oldest, and the white chalcedony one may date from the Renaissance. The remaining ones are mostly 17th and 18th century stones, some no doubt contemporary with the chalice. In all there are approximately 5,492 old mine cut pear shape and chip diamonds TW 152.11 carats.

Object name:
Made from:
Gold -- diamonds -- chalcedony -- bloodstone -- nephrite -- carnelian -- cast glass
Made in:
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Date made:
H. 13 × Diam. 7 in. (33 × 17.8 cm)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
MARK: Crossed anchors for St. Petersburg; 80 for gold content, NM in Cyrillic for assayer Nikifor Moshchalkin; Fabrique de Buch St. Petersbourg, Ao 1791 INSCRIPTION: (Text in Old Church Slavoni) "Drink of it all of you! This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins!" [Inscribed around the lip of the chalice]
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973
Displayed in exhibition:
Natural Beauties: Exquisite Works of Minerals and Gems
Featured in publication:
"The Northern Palmyra: St. Petersburg at 300","Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great (1762-1769)","Treasures Into Tractors: The Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938","Hillwood Museum & Gardens: Marjorie Merriweather Post's Art Collector's Personal Museum","A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum"