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Scenes from the Passion

  • Object:

    Diptych

  • Place of origin:

    France (probably, made)

  • Date:

    late 19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Alfred Williams Hearn Bequest

  • Museum number:

    A.22-1931

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is ivory diptych was probably made in France, in the late nineteenth century, as a medieval forgery. It has four compartments carved with scenes representing the Last Supper, Christ washing the Feet, The Betrayal and the Crucifixion.
This piece has always been acknowledged by the Museum as a forgery. Indeed, it is highly unconvincing as a medieval work, both by virtue of its style and its composition. Several ivories from the same workshop survive.
Indeed, its facture is so different from medieval norms that it was probably never intended to deceive. The compositions are based on those familiar from the great Passion diptychs of the second half of the fourteenth century, and close comparisons reveals that the scenes actually derive from the so-called Dormeuil diptych, now in the Thomson collection in Toronto. The compositions have been trimmed at right and left to produce smaller scenes, with the effect that both the Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet no longer show the full complement of disciples.

Physical description

Diptych, ivory, in four compartments carved with scenes representing The Last Supper, Christ washing the Feet, The Betrayal and the Crucifixion. The scenes are surrounded by a moulded border, and the border between the registers is further embellished with a striated moulding. All scebes have a characteristic and unusual vertical hatching on the background. The leaves are extremely thin.

Place of Origin

France (probably, made)

Date

late 19th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory

Dimensions

Height: 13.2 cm, Width: 18.7 cm open

Object history note

Before 1923, in the collection of Alfred William Hearn (1842-1903) and his widow Ellen Hearn, Menton. The Hearn collection was first described by Purdon Clarke in a brief inventory of 1904, which mentions an 'ivory diptych', possibly the present object, although it may equally have been bought by Mrs Hearn after the death of her husband.

Following the death of Alfred Williams Hearn, a selection of objects from the Hearn collection was given to the Museum in 1923 by his widow. Mrs A. W. Hearn later bequeathed other objects from the collection in 1931, requesting in both instances that the gift and bequest be credited to Alfred Williams Hearn. In 1923, after Mrs Hearn's death, it was one of a range of objects that were shipped to the V&A but not immediately accessioned. This piece was then accessioned in 1931.

Descriptive line

Diptych, ivory, scenes from the Passion, probably French, forgery in medieval style, made late nineteenth century

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

part 1, pp. 336-337
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 1, pp. 336-337, cat. no. 116

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Carved

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity; Fakes & forgeries

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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