Cross finial

Cross finial

circa 1600
Artist
unknown maker
Country
Colombia
cross
Gold, emeralds, pearls
Gift of the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard Family
1990.526
Cross Finial. Colombia, about 1600. Gold, pearls, and emeralds. 4 x 1 1/2 in. Gift of the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard family; 1990.526
Dimensions
height: 4 in, 10.1600 cm; width: 1 5/8 in, 4.1275 cm; depth: 1/2 in, 1.27 cm
Department
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Collection
Latin American Art

When Hernán Cortés and his small army arrived in Mexico in 1519, to their delight they found that gold and silver were abundant. American Indians had a long tradition of metalworking techniques, including filigree, casting, and hammering. Silversmiths from Spain began to immigrate to the Americas shortly after the conquest and introduced European forms and styles. Through time the synthesis of New and Old World styles became integrated, culminating in the lush excesses of colonial Baroque and Rococo metalwork.
     The emeralds in this cross have been identified as coming from the famous emerald mines in Colombia, with some of them from the large Muzo mine, known for the exceptional quality and clarity of its stones. In microscopic analysis, the tear-shaped emeralds show evidence that they were originally cut with Pre-Columbian quartz stone tools to form beads. In the colonial period they were reshaped with metal tools to be incorporated into the cross to serve as an ornament at the top of a crown for a statue of a saint or the Virgin Mary. The pearls have been identified as Venezuelan, perhaps from the famous Island of the Margaritas off the coast.
-- Donna Pierce, 2015
 

Known Provenance
Gifted 26 December 1990 to the Denver Art Museum by the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard Family. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • “ReVision: Art in the Americas” — Denver Art Museum, 2/16/2020 – 11/8/2020