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Panel - Scenes of courtship

Scenes of courtship

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    France (probably Paris, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1320-1340 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved elephant ivory

  • Museum number:

    244-1867

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is an ivory panel from the short side of a casket made in France, probably in Paris in about 1320-1340. The panel depicts courting scenes with two lovers beneath a crocketted trefoil arch. There is also a second panel from that casket in the Museum collection (mus. no. 245-1867), that once formed the back face.

From about 1320 onwards, ivory caskets featuring secular subject matter began to be produced in substantial numbers, often sharing the imagery to be found on mirror backs. Some of the earlier examples are also some of the grandest, and must have been aimed at a wealthy clientele. The nature of the subject matter, which almost always concentrates on courtly love, chivalry and romance, indicates that the caskets were used for the exchange of courtship and wedding gifts. The most important type among the early caskets was what has become known as the ‘composite’ casket, illustrating more than one secular tale. This group of large and impressive caskets, of which at least eight examples survive, illustrate a variety of secular tales and themes. The primary function was not to stimulate memories of the viewers, but to delight and entertain.

Physical description

Carved ivory panel (one of two) from the short side of a casket depicting courting scenes with two lovers beneath a crocketted trefoil arch.

Place of Origin

France (probably Paris, made)

Date

ca. 1320-1340 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved elephant ivory

Dimensions

Height: 5.6 cm, Width: 11.2 cm

Object history note

In the possession of John Webb, London, by 1862 (London 1862, cat. no. 132); purchased from Webb in 1867, for £8.

Descriptive line

Panel, ivory, from a casket, depicting courting scenes, France (probably Paris), ca. 1320-1340

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1867. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 9
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part II, p. 52
p. 95
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
pp. 201-202
Westwood, J O. A descriptive catalogue of the Fictile Ivories in the South Kensington Museum. With an Account of the Continental Collections of Classical and Mediaeval Ivories. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1876
I, p. 479, II, cat. no. 1277
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
part II, pp. 662-663
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part II, pp. 662-663, cat. no. 228

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Lovers; Arches

Categories

Sculpture; Containers

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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