FLORIS, Cornelis
(b. 1514, Antwerpen, d. 1575, Antwerpen)

Sacrament house

1550-52
Marble
Church of St. Leonard, Zoutleeuw

This impressive tabernacle was commissioned in 1550 for the collegiate church of St Leonard in the small Brabantine town of Zoutleeuw by Maarten van Wilre, lord of Oplinter, who belonged to the regional nobility. The artist who executed the commission was Cornelis Floris de Vriendt, who ran a large workshop in Antwerp.

The Zoutleeuw tabernacle, which was installed in 1552 in the north transept and soon after received a brass railing, was remarkable not only for its height (18m) but also for the antique style of its elaborate sculptural programme. In fact, the sacrament house replaced an older tabernacle from 1469-70, indicating that its building, at a high cost, was a very conscious decision on the part of the donor and his wife, a childless couple. Van Wilre's patronage for the church of Zoutleeuw included the financing of a wide range of liturgical services and the commissioning of many religious works of art (a monstrance, a cope and a number of altarpieces by influential painters such as Frans Floris and Pieter Aertsen).