Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

1680 Jerusalem

Offered by Peter Petrou

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This olive wood model is intricately inlaid with engraved mother-of-pearl and bone and has numerous removable sections which reveal the detailed interior of the Church. These highly prized exquisite models were made for wealthy pilgrims in the Holy Land from the beginning of the 17th century.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was first built by Constantine and his mother St. Helena in the 4th Century and incorporated; to the west, the Holy Sepulchre; to the east, the Chapel of St. Helena, where she discovered the “true cross”; to the south, Calvary or Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion and to the north, the prison of Christ.

The basilica was ordered to be destroyed by the Fatimid ruler of Egypt and Palestine in the 1009, but building began again three years later. According to the contemporary witness, the Persian traveller Nasir-i-Khusrau, by 1047 the Rotunda and Edicule housing the Sepulchre together with a chapel over the Rock of Golgotha and many other chapels and open courtyards had been re-built magnificently and when the Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, they found a building in good repair. It was not until 1149 that they completed the first part of their Romanesque reconstruction including the chapels enclosing the Rock of Calvary followed by the Katholikon; the great domed structure to the east of the Rotunda. Through the centuries areas have fallen into disrepair and the disagreement between the parties responsible for its upkeep has taken its toll. However, this 17th century model portrays the Church as it was seen by pilgrims after it was rebuilt by Father Boniface of Ragusa following the 1555 earthquake. The shrine was extensively damaged again following a fire in 1808 so this model is important evidence of the shrine's pre-19th century appearance.
The Russian pilgrim Arsenii Sukhanov took one of these exquisite models back home in 1653 and it was copied by the Russian patriarch Nikon (d.1681) who built a full-scale model 80 km east of Moscow.
The Sloane Collection at the British Museum - This similar although less elaborate example was part of the original founding bequest from Sir Hans Sloane in 1753. It was exhibited in a 'Cabinet Exhibition' at the Museum; an exploration of the history and meaning of a single object from 2 February to 6 May, see The Art Newspaper February 2012.
The Royal Danish Kunstkammer holds a similar but also less elaborate example which was first recorded in 1674
The Monastery de Sao Vicente in Lisbon, Portugal holds an example of similar date with the arms of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The Royal Danish Kunstkammer 1737 B. Gundestrup
The Architectural History of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem Robert Willis, 1849
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre Biddle, Avni, Seligman & Winter, New York 2000
The Art Newspaper February 2012
Height 29.50 cm (11.61 inches)
Width 89.00 cm (35.04 inches)
Depth 58.00 cm (22.83 inches)
Stock Code
Olive wood inlaid with bone and mother-of-pearl
Peter Petrou

Peter Petrou
c/o BADA, 20 Rutland Gate

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