We enter the workshop. Miguel, the chiseler, looks at us out of the corner of his eye and continues his task. The work he has in hand is complex, requiring a great mastery of technique and a great capacity for concentration. It is an unusual commission: a chalice with a lid - an uncommon feature - and an unusual shape. inspired by one of the main jewels of Romanesque goldsmithery of the Spanish heritage: The Chalice of Santo Domingo de Silos.
INSPIRED BY AN ORIGINAL PIECE FROM THE 11TH CENTURY
In response to this special request, our designers began to study the chalice, which is kept in the Museum of the Monastery of Silos, by means of documentation and photographs of the piece itself. Based on this, a proposal was made for a gilded silver chalice, which would have been worked by hand, with the addition of the lid crowned by a Greek cross.. The detail of the lid, which already existed in a later copy of the same chalice, was expressly requested by the client so that the piece could be used as a chalice and ciborium.
In addition to the traced ornamental motifs, the following inscription was added to the new chalice "Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen Domini invocabo." (Psalm 116:13) on the outside around the cup.
Once completed, work will begin on a matching paten, also inspired by the original piece from the Monastery of Silos.
THE ORIGINAL WORK: THE CHALICE OF SAINT DOMINIC OF SILOS
This piece of Romanesque goldsmith work dates from mid-11th century and is, together with El Cáliz de Doña Urraca (second half of the 11th century, Collegiate Church of San Isidoro de León), one of the most valuable pieces of gold work of the Romanesque of Castilla y León. The Romanesque in this area does not differ in essence from that of the rest of the peninsula, but it has its own characteristics that differentiate it. In fact, at some point it was thought that the chalice, because of its ornamentation, was of Mozarabic elaboration, but the idea was discarded when it was verified that this type of enrichments were present in other works of the Leonese Romanesque.
The calyx, 30 cm high, was silver plated and gilded in some areas. It is formed by two half spheres - cup and base - symmetrical and joined by a shank which in turn is cut by a knot also spherical and worked in filigree. All the ornamentation of the piece has been worked with this technique and draws complex patterns composed of horseshoe arches, borders and spirals.
It is believed that the chalice came from the goldsmith's workshop of the Monastery of Silos itself - in whose museum the piece is preserved today. between 1041 and 1050. Given the dates, it may have been executed on the initiative of Saint Dominic himself, abbot at that time, who had the inscription engraved on the base: In nomine domini ob honorem sci sabastiani dominico abbas fecit.