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Statuette - St Erasmus

St Erasmus

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    France (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ivory statuette representing Saint Erasmus is made by an unknown sculptor. It is probaly a French pastiche dating from ca. 1850, but carved in the style of the eighteenth century, borrowing Spanish baroque traditions. The facial features are distinctly nineteenth century in style, and the elaborate yet crude carving of the robes would also support this date.
Saint Erasmus was the Bishop of Formiae in Campagna, Italy. He fled to Mount Lebanon in the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian, where he was fed by a raven so he could stay in hiding. When discovered, he was imprisoned, but an angel rescued him. Recaptured, he was martyred. According to legend, he was disemboweled at Formiae, a windlass used to unwind his entrails.

Physical description

This statuette represents St Erasmus in mitre and cope with jewelled morse. A crucifix hangs from his waist. He blesses with this right hand. He stands on his right leg, his left leg slightly bent. The borders of the vestments have carved edges imitating embroidery, but the carving is relatively crude. Stylised flowers are carved onto the cope and the mitre. On the back of the cope a crown of thorns encircles a Greek cross, with three nails at the top and an 'L' and 'S' on either side. The curve of the body follows the curve of the tusk. On the base is an inscription.

Place of Origin

France (probably, made)


ca. 1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

on the base

'L' and 'S'
On the back of the cope a crown of thorns encircles a Greek cross, with three nails at the top and an 'L' and 'S' on either side.


Height: 45 cm

Object history note

Bought for 226 thalers (£32 19s. 2d.) by Henry Cole in Berlin from Minutoli on 17 October 1863. The vendor was the Liegnitz collector Alexander von Minutoli (1806-1886), who acquired primarily ceramics and glass. He sold off parts of his collection from the 1850s onwards; a substantial proportion went to form part of what was later to be the Kunstgewerbe Museum in Berlin.

Descriptive line

Statuette, ivory, representing St Erasmus, probably French, ca. 1850, in the style of 17th century

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1863. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 37
Cole, Henry. Notes from a journey to Vienna and back in October November 1863, London 1879, p. 32
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929, p. 110
pp. 453, 454
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, pp. 453, 554, cat. no. 500



Subjects depicted

Morse; Cope; Mitre


Sculpture; Christianity; Religion


Sculpture Collection

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