A Thousand Words

The Chalice of Abbot Suger

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

The Chalice of Abbot Suger was made in two parts, a sardonyx cup at the center, mounted in a heavily gilded and bejeweled rim and attached to a jeweled knob and base by a pair of curving handles. It is inscribed, "Suger Abbas": even without such an object to his credit, the Abbot Suger is worthy of attention in any history of art. The sardonyx cup at the heart of the chalice is cut from a single piece of semi-precious stone, carved thin enough to be translucent. The inside is smooth, but the outside is fluted to make a rippled effect of the veins of red and white that . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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