The Four Evangelists thumbnail 1
The Four Evangelists thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery

The Four Evangelists

Plaque
mid 11th century (carving)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This ivory plaque, made in Germany (Lower Rhine, Cologne) in the mid 11th century depcits the four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – who held a special position among the saints as the authors of the Gospels. They often appeared on the covers of Gospel books. These small plaques would have been placed either in the corners or around a central plaque to form a cross.
The four plaques show the long-standing influence of the Carolingian style up until the middle of the eleventh century. The evangelist figures are clearly related in style to those found in manuscripts produced in Cologne and its environs in the mid-eleventh century.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved ivory, probably walrus ivory (although secondary dentine not visible)
Brief Description
Plaques, ivory, depicting the four Evangelists, Lower Rhenish (Cologne), mid 11th century
Physical Description
The Four Evangelists. Each is seated before a lectern accompanied by his particular symbol. St Matthew is sharpening his quill; St Mark writing; St Luke (shown frontally rather than in profile) listening to his symbol, with his quill ready in his right hand; St John writing, turns his head back towards his symbol, the eagle. Only Matthew and John have haloes. Because of their fragility the plaques are now mounted on a perspex plate.
Dimensions
  • Each plaque height: 2.5cm
  • Each plaque width: 2.3cm
  • Depth: 0.7cm
  • Weight: 0.02kg
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Object history
Formerly in the Webb collection. Acquired by the museum in 1867, for £10.



Historical significance: The four plaques show the long-standing influence of the Carolingian style up until the middle of the eleventh century. The evangelist figures are clearly related in style to those found in manuscripts produced in Cologne and its environs in the mid-eleventh century, such as the similarly sized examples in the Initium page of St. Gereon Gospels in Stuttgart of about 1050-67.
Historical context
Similar reliefs were frequently used to decorate covers of manuscripts of the Gospels or Evangelistary, either placed in the corners or, in the form of a cross, around a larger central relief.
Production
Lower Rhenish
Subjects depicted
Summary
This ivory plaque, made in Germany (Lower Rhine, Cologne) in the mid 11th century depcits the four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – who held a special position among the saints as the authors of the Gospels. They often appeared on the covers of Gospel books. These small plaques would have been placed either in the corners or around a central plaque to form a cross.

The four plaques show the long-standing influence of the Carolingian style up until the middle of the eleventh century. The evangelist figures are clearly related in style to those found in manuscripts produced in Cologne and its environs in the mid-eleventh century.



Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929. Part I. p.74.
  • 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.
  • Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 266, 7, cat.no. 69
Collection
Accession Number
248-1867

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdDecember 12, 2006
Record URL