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triptych / religious/ritual equipment

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Triptych; elephant ivory, silver hinges. The central leaf in two registers, the scenes framed by depressed ogee arches decorated with crockets and finials. The upper register with the Coronation of the Virgin; the lower register with the Crucifixion.The left leaf in two registers, the figures framed by depressed ogee arches decorated with crockets and finials. The upper with the figure of St Paul, the spandrels with rosettes; the lower with the figure of St Stephen, the spandrels with rosette at left and the Grandisson arms within a shield at right. The right leaf in two registers, the figures framed by depressed ogee arches decorated with crockets and finials. The upper with the figure of St Peter, the spandrels with rosettes; the lower with the figure of St Thomas a Becket, the spandrels with Grandisson arms within a shield at left and rosette at right.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1330-1340
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 238 millimetres
    • Width: 50 millimetres (side leaf)
    • Width: 101 millimetres (central leaf)
    • Width: 50 millimetres (side leaf)
    • Width: 206 millimetres (open)
    • Width: 102 millimetres (closed, including hinges)
    • Depth: 17 millimetres (open)
    • Depth: 35 millimetres (closed, including handles)
    • Weight: 550 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Text from 'Images in Ivory' catalogue, see Bibliography.
    'Cut from a very thick leaf of ivory, the two central scenes with densely packed compositions are more deeply carved than the figures of Saints Peter, Paul, Stephen, and Thomas Becket on the wings, which form a marked contrast in depth of relief. The format is reminiscent of contemporary Italian painted altarpieces rather than French Gothic triptychs. Identified by the coat of arms carved on the inner spandrels above the lower saints, the triptych must have been made for John de Grandisson, bishop of Exeter (1327-69). His arms (paly of six argent and azure on a bend gules a mitre between two eaglets displayed or) also occur on a boss of the nave vaults of Exeter Cathedral, on a misericord in the choir of his collegiate foundation at Ottery Saint Mary (Devon), and on certain textiles and manuscripts. A second ivory triptych in the British Museum (1926, 0712.1) and two leaves divided between the British Museum (1861, 0416.2) and the Musée du Louvre (OA 105) are also carved with the same arms. Taken as a group, the Grandisson ivories display a number of iconographic features that suggest strong, even direct influence from near-contemporary Italian, particularly Sienese, painting.'See:
    A. W. Franks, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 2nd ser, no.1, pp.376-377.


  • Bibliography

    • Randall 1974 bibliographic details
    • Dalton 1909 245 bibliographic details
    • Longhurst 1926 No. LX, plate 45 bibliographic details
    • Gaborit-Chopin 1978 no247 bibliographic details
    • Pradel et al 1968 no363 bibliographic details
    • Porter 1977 no49-51 bibliographic details
    • Alexander & Binski 1987 no593 bibliographic details
    • Robinson 2008 p. 106 bibliographic details
    • Molinier 1896 p. 200 bibliographic details
    • Courajod & Molinier 1885 p. 255 bibliographic details
    • Prior & Gardner 1912 p. 375, fig. 430 bibliographic details
    • Robinson 2008 p106 bibliographic details
    • Barnet 1997 p188 bibliographic details
    • Maskell 1872 Pl. XXXI bibliographic details
    • Franks 1861 pp. 376 - 378 bibliographic details
    • Stratford 1991 pp144-155 bibliographic details
    • Rose-Troup 1928 pp239-75 bibliographic details
    • Dalton 1926 pp74-83 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G40/dc10/sC

  • Exhibition history

    2016-2017 Sep- Jan, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery
    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
    1987-1988 6 Nov-6 Mar, London, Royal Academy of Arts, Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England 1200-1400
    1978 4 May-27 Aug, London, BM, Heraldry: British Heraldry from its origins to circa 1800
    1968, Paris, Musee du Louvre

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: MCM1771

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