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Panel - The Virgin and Child

The Virgin and Child

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1330-1350 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ivory plaque from a set of writing or devotional tablets was made in ca. 1330-1350 in France. It is representing the Virgin and Child.

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.

Physical description

Ivory panel, the Virgin and Child. The crowned Virgin is flanked by two candle-bearing angels and holds the Christ-Child in her left arm. The scene is set beneath a trefoil arch topped with a gable with crockets; in the blank area above can be seen the faded remains of painted trefoils.

Place of Origin

France (made)


ca. 1330-1350 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory


Height: 7.3 cm, Width: 3.5 cm

Object history note

Prior to 1923 in the collection of Alfred Williams Hearn and Ellen Hearn, Menton; given by Mrs Hearn in 1923.

Descriptive line

Plaque, ivory, from a set of writing or devotional tablets, the Virgin and Child, French, ca. 1330-1350

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

part 1, pp. 350-351
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. 350-351, cat. no. 120






Reliefs; Christianity; Religion; Plaques & Plaquettes


Sculpture Collection

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