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Ivory plaque depicting Christ in Majesty

 

Length: 77.000 mm

M&ME 1991,4-1,1

Prehistory and Europe

    Ivory plaque depicting Christ in Majesty

    Anglo-Saxon, mid-11th century AD
    From Kent, England

    Originally decorated with red paint and gold leaf

    This pointed oval plaque was discovered some time ago by the bare-fist fighter Jack Bradley while he was digging for flint artefacts.

    It is made from walrus ivory and is carved in high relief. Christ with a halo and dressed in a long robe is shown sitting in majesty on a rainbow. In His left hand is the Bible while the right hand is raised in blessing. Around the edge of the plaque is a raised frame. Originally, it was brilliant with bright paint and gold leaf.

    Four attachment holes in the plaque seem to have been made some time after it was first carved. It is likely the plaque was removed from its original setting and reused, perhaps to decorate a box or shrine.

    The depiction of Christ in Majesty was popularly used in both manuscripts and ivories of this period. The dating of this piece is based on the style and technique of its decoration. The folds of Christ's robe are restrained and static, which is similar to other sculpture and manuscript art of the eleventh century. This is in contrast to earlier ivories, such as the plaque depicting the Baptism of Christ, which is also in The British Museum.