ROGER OF HELMARSHAUSEN
(active 1100-1125 at Helmarshausen)

Portable Altar

c. 1120
Oak box, clad in partly gilded silver, feet of gilded bronze, 165 x 345 x 212 mm
Cathedral, Paderborn

At Helmarshausen, according to a document, Roger was the creator of a portable altar dedicated to Sts Kilian and Liborius. The altar, commissioned by Heinrich of Werl, Bishop of Paderborn (reg 1084-1127), was produced about 1120. It consists of an oak box with a lid and claw feet. The outer surfaces are partly covered with silver-gilt plates decorated predominantly with niello but also with engraving and repoussé work. Gold filigree and mounted cut stones are also used. At the top, on one side, is a depiction of the Donor with an inscription and the symbols of two Evangelists and, on the other, a portrait of the patron of Paderborn Cathedral, Bishop Meinwerk (reg 1009-36), also beside Evangelists' symbols. The background of each between the lines of script is densely filled with fine arabesques and flat, rhomboid patterns. Also depicted in niello are the Twelve Apostles on the long sides and the Virgin with Sts John and James the Less on the back panel. The front panel is the only surface of the altar with a silver embossed relief, showing Christ in Majesty in a circular filigree aureole embellished with jewels, as well as Sts Kilian and Liborius. The latter appear again on the bottom of the casket in a splendid drawing on a gilt copperplate. The Apostles on the long sides are masterfully portrayed, individually characterized by a sparse but apt use of line, seen especially in their postures and hair, with all the details executed with care.




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