“A Large Dish of Onyx” in the Holy Roman Empire

Marina Belozerskaya

in Medusa’s Gaze

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199739318
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979356 | DOI:

Series: Emblems of Antiquity

“A Large Dish of Onyx” in the Holy Roman Empire

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  • Ancient and Classical Art (to 500 CE)


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Frederick II Hohenstaufen, the Holy Roman Emperor who ruled southern Italy in the 13th century, seems to have acquired the Tazza from travelling merchants. He was keen to emulate and revive the golden age of Rome and both collected and commissioned works associated with antiquity. But he may have also re-interpreted the Tazza’s imagery as a Christian scene, as medieval Europeans often did when confronted with pagan artworks.

Keywords: Frederick II Hohenstaufen; Holy Roman Emperor; crusade; papacy; cameos; Intaglios; gems; Three Kings Cameo; Nativity; Christian interpretation

Chapter.  4394 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient and Classical Art (to 500 CE)

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