- Museum number
Plaque from a diptych; rectangular; ivory; the upper scene depiciting the Descent from the Cross, the lower the Entombment; each of the two registers with a frieze of small rosettes at the top and a pattern of gilded dots on the background; traces of gilding and a black outline at the halos; traces of green paint at the rosettes.
- Production date
Height: 222 millimetres
Width: 106 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The matching left leaf of this diptych is located in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, with the museum number 71.124.
Text from 'Images in ivory' catalogue, see Bibliography.
'These two plaques certainly formed a diptych, since their silver hinges match exactly. The left leaf ('Images in ivory' catalogue, no.13) is said to have been painted purple in 1907 and reddish traces remain, as well as some gilding of the halos and vestiges of a diaper-patterned background. The right leaf ('Images in ivory' catalogue, no. 14) has traces of green on the draperies and on the horizontal of rosettes above each scene; the halos are gilded, with a black outline, and there is a pattern of gilded dots on the background. Alternating lancets and circles decorate the sarcophagus of the Entombment. The scenes are carved with unusual freedom and monumentality, each zone being isolated against a plain background as on the lintels of many thirteenth-century portals. A discret frieze of six small rosettes runs across above each scene, and there is a beaded lower border. Koechlin grouped several ivories as the products of a single workshop on the basis of the motif of these rosette borders. But his group (the so-called Rose Group) is stilically too diverse to be accepted. The present diptych is closest in style to a diptych divided between the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford,(1685, [cat. A 580]) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA 17.190.280); a diptych in the Gulbenkian Collection, Lisbon, is a later production.
Others members of the Rose Group show such a variety of styles that the hypothesis of a workshop production must be abandoned. Here there is a clarity and massive quality to some of the figures are reminiscent of the best French monumental sculpture of the period about 1280; for instance, the reliefs of the north door of the west facqde of Auxerre cathedral. With other figures, the language of forms is more refined, the silhouettes are already elongated. The undercutting of the two ivory leaves is superficially similar to the Paris ivories with colonettes of about 1300, but their style is again very different. This diptych therefore represents a unique blend of the "monumental" and the "mannered" at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It is a small masterpiece, among the most precious ivories to survive from the reign of Philippe le Bel.'
- On display (G40/dc14/sA)
- Exhibition history
1997 21 Jun-31 Aug, USA, Baltimore, The Walters Art Gallery, Images in Ivory – Precious Objects of the Gothic Age
1997 7 Mar-25 May, USA, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Images in Ivory – Precious Objects of the Gothic Age
- Holes for hinges on left, loss of some gilding and polychromy.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number