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  • Place of origin:

    France (North or Paris , made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ivory panel representing the Annunciation was probably made in the late 15th century in northern France or Paris. The Annunciation appears on fifteenth century paxes relatively often, there being at least ten examples known.
A pax is a tablet or board, sometimes of silver, usually decorated with a Christian religious representation. A pax was used at the end of mass as part of the ‘Kiss of Peace’ ritual after the Angus Dei. First the priest would kiss the tablet, then the members of the congregation. England was precocious in introducing the pax, but references abound elsewhere from the beginning of the fourteenth century onwards. Paxes could be made from many materials, including wood, copper, silver and gold, as well as ivory.
The earliest, fourteenth-century, examples are invariably decorated with the Crucifixion, but the imagery rapidly diversified to take in other scenes connected with the Christ’s Passion and Sacrifice. By the fifteenth century the choice had expanded, with many scenes of the Virgin and Child.

Physical description

Ivory panel of a pax representing the Annunciation. Convex at the front, the plaque shows the barefooted Archangel Gabriel approaching from the right. He holds a long staff with foliate terminal in his right hand, around which is wrapped a scroll with his words of salutation 'Ave Gracia Plena', to which he points with his left hand. At the top of the scroll is the dove of the Holy Ghost. The nimbed Virgin kneels at a prie-Dieu with an open book before her, turning to the angel in surprise and raising her left hand to her chest. The back of the plaque is concave.

Place of Origin

France (North or Paris , made)


late 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory


Height: 10.9 cm, Width: 8.1 cm

Object history note

Following the death of Alfred Williams Hearn in the early 20th century, 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. It was probalby acquired by Mrs Hearn after the death of her husband in 1903, and may be the 'baiser de paix' listed in her notebook, bought at Eastbourne (from Thomas Sutton) in July 1905 and previously in the Willet collection.
Given by Mrs Ellen Hearn, Villa St Louis, Menton in 1923; this and other objects presented at the same time were labelled as the Alfred Williams Hearn gift.

Descriptive line

Pax, ivory, the Annunciation, France (northern France or Paris), late 15th century

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

part 1, pp. 404-405
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. 404-405, cat. no. 142



Subjects depicted

Staff; Scroll; Angel


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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