Height: 23.800 cm
Width: 20.500 cm
Room 40: Medieval Europe
Ivory triptych with the arms of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter
Medieval, AD 1330-40
The triptych is made from elephant ivory. The Coronation of the Virgin is depicted in the centre panel, set above the Crucifixion. St Peter and St Stephen are represented on the left wing, and St Paul and St Thomas Becket on the right.
The triptych was made for John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter (1327-69), whose arms are carved into the right and left spandrels of the arches which contain St Stephen and St Thomas Becket. It is one of a number of works in ivory associated with Grandisson, and unique in that they bear the coat of arms of their patron.
John de Grandisson's early career was quite cosmopolitan. He rose to prominence under the Curia (the papal court) at Avignon and was consecrated as bishop of Exeter in 1327 by Pope John XXII (reigned 1316-34). Arriving in England the following year, he remained committed to his diocese for the rest of his life. He was a man of education, taste and influence. He was responsible for major works at Exeter, including the building of the Cathedral's nave. During his life he demonstrated a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and Saints Peter, Paul, Stephen and Thomas Becket, as reflected here and in the decorative schemes which survive at Exeter Cathedral.
M.J. Swanton (ed.), Exeter Cathedral: a celebratio (Crediton, Dean and Chapter of Exeter, 1991)
J. Alexander and P. Binski, Age of chivalry: art in Planta (Royal Academy, London, 1987)
J. Robinson, Masterpieces: Medieval Art (London, British Museum Press, 2008)
P. Barnet (ed.), Images in ivory: precious obje (Detroit Institute of Arts, 1997)