Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Chaumet’s contemporary brochure explained that the piece strove to
“represent the influence of Christ and his doctrine on civilisation” and should be read from top to bottom in three parts: “the facts or the cause” at the top; the “doctrines or means of action” in the middle; and the “results obtained” at the base.

The piece is topped by a wooden crucifix and four gold figures – Mary, John, a kneeling Mary Magdalene and Christ – beneath a 220-carat triangular sapphire with radiating diamonds and rubies picking out the banner lettering ‘SI EXALTATUS FUERO A TERRA OMNIA TRAHAM AD MEIPSUM’.

Below, sandwiched between grey-white jade clouds with diamond-studded lightning bolts, is an agate globe ringed with the gold figures of the Apostles, and with the lines of longitude and latitude made out in tiny diamonds. Beneath the globe is the gold figure of St Michael slaying the Devil; sapphires and rubies add colour to Michael’s
outspread diamond wings. Above a
triangular gold base, the gold figures of Faith, Charity and Humility are seated on a block of labradorite, accompanying a diamond-studded dove symbolising the Holy Spirit.

The sale also included Chaumet’s preparatory model in silver-gilt, glass and silvered metal, with a black opaline in place of the sapphire. This sold on top-estimate for Fr300,000 (£28,600).