Museums at Work
Museums at Work

Museums at Work

The Reliquary of Montalto

A masterpiece in gems, gold and enamel

25 June 2024
Room XVII, Pinacoteca

From Tuesday 25 June, and for the entire summer season, Room XVII of the Vatican Pinacoteca will house a very rare masterpiece of sacred goldwork, an identifying symbol of the religious devotion and civic pride of a local community: the Reliquary of Montalto delle Marche.

Donated by Pope Sixtus V in 1586 to his home town of Montalto, the very delicate French late-Gothic work, depicting scenes of the Passion of Christ, is an extremely precious multi-material artefact, not only in terms of the materials used: gold, gold-plated silver, enamel en ronde bosse, gemstones, pearls and cameo in sardonyx, but also for the high level of skill of the production technique and the rare artistic quality.
It can most probably be traced back to the Parisian workshop of Jean du Vivier, to whom it was entrusted by the French royal family towards the end of the fourteenth century. From here it arrived in the pontifical treasury, after having passed through the most important princely collections of the fifteenth century.

The Sistine reliquary – already restored in 2013 at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Precious Stones Workshop) in Florence – was recently the object of a new revision intervention (involving both the metal structure and the enamelled elements), and will leave the Tuscan capital for the Vatican Museums, before returning definitively to its original display site in the Sistine Bishop’s Museum of Montalto (Ascoli Piceno), temporarily closed for post-seismic work.