Sassoferrato - Marche Region - Italy
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Perottiana Collection

Sassoferrato, a timeless journey in history

This collection, on the ground floor of Palazzo dei Priori, is named after the outstanding intellectual and humanist native of Sassoferrato, Niccolò Perotti (1430-1480) that during his many travels in Germany and in the East together with Cardinal Bessarione, gathered an important number of reliquaries.

Bessarione donated them to the town in 1473 but the collection was stolen in 1800; after the recovery, it remained in the town’s safe deposit box until 1921, when the items were relocated.

The collection holds a rare 14th century byzantine work of art, The icon of St. Demetrius. The work of art is a mosaic on a wood support coated with an embossed silver and gold foil.

The great value of this portable mosaic icon is represented by its rareness, particularly for the creation’s technique, very different from the one of parietal mosaics or bigger mosaic icons.

It consists of works made on a wooden support, with slightly raised edges, where, first of all, a coat of wax and resin was spread and then the minuscule pieces made of copper, lead, semiprecious stones and marbles were applied

Given that the size of the pieces is less than the head of a pin, the production of these portable icons required great competence and precision, making their production very limited compared to other icons.

The reliquary contains, in the top part, a small lead vial where the “holy balm”, which was flowing out of the Saint’s tomb, was transported.

In addition to the icon, we can see:

  • A box reliquary made of painted wood, attributable to a 15th century byzantine workshop. On the inside, there are six compartments for the relics. Then, an ostensory reliquary, so called because of the top part small crystal vial where the relics were kept.
  • Ten caskets, used as well as reliquary, made like a box with a curved lid, covered in leather with gold and silver edged with gilded bronze floral designs, provided with lock and key.
  • A square reliquary box, covered in painted paper.
  • Another reliquary box made in embossed and chiselled silver
  • A diptych reliquary made in ivory with two doors, that dated back to a 14th century’s French school, with six receptacles, placed in the gold wooden structure, for other title blocks. The small ivory slabs, made as a bas-relief, show four religious subjects.
  • Four capsule reliquaries, whose realization can be ascribable to the south Germany figurative culture, and a group of art works made of a round case for ‘Agnus Dei’.
  • Another group of works, whose origin is similar to the capsule reliquaries, including two pectoral reliquary crosses. One of these is made in silver with the edge decorated with coral and the other reliquary cross is made of golden wood that dates back to the second half of the XV century.



November - March 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. / 2.30 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.

April-October 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. / 3.30 p.m. - 6.30 p.m.

The entrance ticket to the Perottiana Collection also includes the Civic Archaeological Museum.