The Virgin and Child thumbnail 1
The Virgin and Child thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

The Virgin and Child

Panel
ca. 1350-1380 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is an ivory plaque from a set of writing tablets, made in about 1350-1380 in France (Paris). The panel depicts the Virgin and Child standing between St. John the Baptist and St. Catherine of Alexandria. Two little angels hold a crown over the Virgin's head.

Ivory covers for writing tablets survive in good numbers from the fourteenth century. Wax writing tablets or panels of a hard material filled with layers of wax that could be inscribed with a stylus, were common in Antiquity and continued in use throughout the early Middle Ages. They were particularly useful for note taking, given their portability and the fact that their surfaces could be erased and reused.
The majority of such tablets would have been made of wood, although other materials such as gold, silver, bone and ivory were also used. In most cases the tablets formed part of a group of up to eight panels, only the covers of which were carved with imagery on their outer faces. The imagery on most surviving tablets and boxes derives primarily from diptychs, with a quality of carving lower than that commonly found on diptychs, at least partly as a result of the thinner ivory material on the tablets.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved elephant ivory
Brief Description
Plaque, ivory, from a set of writing tablets, the Virgin and Child, French (Paris), ca. 1350-1380
Physical Description
The Virgin and Child standing between St. John the Baptist and St. Catherine of Alexandria. Two little angels hold a crown over the Virgin's head. Above is a cusped arch. The Child holds a fruit in his left hand, while reaching up to touch the Virgin's mantle with his right. Two angels lower an oversized crown onto the Virgin's head. To the left stands St John the Baptist, pointing towards a disc with the Agnus Dei and cross he holds in his left hand, while to the right stands St Catherine of Alexandria, crowned and with martyr's palm, holding a small wheel in her left hand.
Dimensions
  • Height: 8cm
  • Width: 5.5cm
Object history
In the possession of John Webb, London, by 1862; purchased from Webb in 1867, for £10.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This is an ivory plaque from a set of writing tablets, made in about 1350-1380 in France (Paris). The panel depicts the Virgin and Child standing between St. John the Baptist and St. Catherine of Alexandria. Two little angels hold a crown over the Virgin's head.



Ivory covers for writing tablets survive in good numbers from the fourteenth century. Wax writing tablets or panels of a hard material filled with layers of wax that could be inscribed with a stylus, were common in Antiquity and continued in use throughout the early Middle Ages. They were particularly useful for note taking, given their portability and the fact that their surfaces could be erased and reused.

The majority of such tablets would have been made of wood, although other materials such as gold, silver, bone and ivory were also used. In most cases the tablets formed part of a group of up to eight panels, only the covers of which were carved with imagery on their outer faces. The imagery on most surviving tablets and boxes derives primarily from diptychs, with a quality of carving lower than that commonly found on diptychs, at least partly as a result of the thinner ivory material on the tablets.



Bibliographic References
  • 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. 11
  • Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part II, p. 28
  • Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872p. 112
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014part 1, pp. 360-361
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part 1, pp. 360-361, cat. no. 124
Collection
Accession Number
277-1867

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 createdAugust 22, 2008
Record URL