The casket of Frank. Two examples of carving in Northumbria, the casket of Frank and the coffin of St. Cuthbert, form a special case, apart from the art of monument sculpture. The first is a casket in whalebone, carved on four sides and on the cover with scenes taken from pagan and classical legends, from Roman history and from Christian tradition.
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Executed in the 8th c., perhaps for a high-ranking patron, it bears on each side one or more inscriptions in Old English, inscribed in Anglo-Saxon-style runes. On the rear panel, part of the inscription is in Latin, carved in a mix of runic and Latin letters. The carving of the figures of the Ruthwell cross and of the sculptures on the chest of St.
Cuthbert, far from the slightly barbarizing classicism of the portraits of the evangelists at Lindisfarne, could have arrived in France via a pilgrim, given that it formerly belonged to the Church of St. Julien de Brioude, one of the ancient Christian centers of the Auvergne. Jersey City Subway Map 8.
The coffin of St.Cuthbert. The coffin of St.
Cuthbert, the levis theca Bede, Vita Cuthberti, ch. 42 in which the saint was placed in 698, is the only sculpted wooden object of any importance surviving from Anglo-Saxon England. It is a coffin made of oak, 1.98 m long, with a double cover.
On the external cover a figure of Christ is carved with symbols of the evangelists at the four corners; at the narrower end of the coffin are the archangels Michael and Gabriel, and at the wider end a representation of the Virgin with child.
On one of the long sides the twelve apostles are arranged in two rows, each with his own name; on the other long side are another five archangels, among whom Raphael and Uriel appear. The artist who decorated the reliquary-coffin combined two different sources, a literary and a figurative one. It is not possible to trace all the iconography of the coffin to a single source.
A greater unity is clear in the liturgical program than in the iconography, but this is the result of a peculiar artistic interpretation: in fact, however, prayer and art seem to be fused here in a profound unity. A litany is a means for invoking the aid and protection of the saints; the litanies were cited on the biers containing their relics, which became bier-reliquaries, precisely to ensure this kind of protection. The representation of the celestial custodians on the bier of St.
Cuthbert was not therefore a simple decoration or a pure recitation of prayers, but the creation, by the monks of Lindisfarne, of an immanent and perpetual fulfillment of this protection.