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Censer with Pictorial Cycle of the Life of Christ

Culture Byzantine
Title Censer with Pictorial Cycle of the Life of Christ
Date 400–600 CE
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Base (height of foot): 9/16 x 2 3/16 in. (1.5 x 5.5 cm)
Overall (incl. rings): 5 5/16 x 5 1/8 x 16 1/8 in. (13.5 x 13 x 41 cm)
Credit Line Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 79.31

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About this Work

Censers were used to burn and dispense incense. They were employed in many contexts in the ancient world, but this censer proclaims its use as a part of Christian liturgical ritual by depicting major scenes from the life of Christ. Eight events from the Annunciation to the Resurrection are referenced; these separate narratives merge together in a crowded, abstracted manner, but the subject matter would have been easily recognized by those familiar with these stories. The style is a good example of the organic and exuberant nature of Coptic art in Egypt.

1979, Indiana University Art Museum purchase from Robin Symes Limited, London, England

?–1979, with Robin Symes Limited, London, England [1]


[1] Robin Symes (b. 1939) operated as an art and antiquities dealer in London from about 1970. Robin Symes Limited was founded in 1977 and dissolved in 2005.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Censer with Pictorial Cycle of the Life of Christ | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.