Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Diptych leaf - The Crucifixion

The Crucifixion

  • Object:

    Diptych leaf

  • Place of origin:

    Venice (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1360-1390 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs Gilbertson in memory of her husband, Canon Gilbertson.

  • Museum number:

    A.33-1940

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This right leaf of a diptych, made in Venice in about 1360-1390, is unusual in design and style. Jesus Christ is depicted in the centre, with the Virgin and St John on either side. Above the arms of the cross there are two weeping angels.

The devotional diptych is in many ways the object type most associated with the notion of Gothic ivory carving. The earliest examples probably date to the 1240s; these are complex, large and ambitious works that emerged, somewhat surprisingly, with no obvious precursors. The owners of ivory diptychs sometimes appear within their images. Such portraits indicate that they were special requests on the part of their commissioners, and they parallel the similar figures that appear in manuscripts and panel paintings of the period. The iconography of Gothic diptychs oscillated between two poles. The first of which is the desire to present narratives (Life of Christ and Virgin Mary) for envisaging. The second was the use of non-narrative images to form the focus of devotion.

Physical description

Leaf of an ivory diptych. The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John and two weeping angels above the arms of the cross. Surmounted by shell shaped arches. On the left side are the remains of the hinges and a piece of ivory is broken away below the cross. At the top of the leaf is a double arch, supported on corbels. Each arch is formed of a swelling hemisphere, with a scallop shell niche behind. The Crucifixion is depicted beneath; Christ is shown frontally on the cross, and the sculptor has attempted unsuccessfully to show his legs foreshortened. Small drill holes indicate the wounds in his hands and feet, while a small slit has been incised in his right breast to indicate his side wound. Above the cross is shown the titulus, while to either side, half-length angels display their grief by clasping their cloaks to their faces. Below, the Virgin stands on the left in profile, looking directly up at Christ, while St. John the Evangelist carries a book in his left hand and raises his right. The scene is framed with a simple moulding.

Place of Origin

Venice (made)

Date

ca. 1360-1390 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Ivory

Dimensions

Height: 9.1 cm, Width: 5.1 cm

Object history note

In the collection of Canon Lewis Gilbertson, Rector of St. Martin's Church, Ludgate Hill, London, by 1928. Bequeathed by Mrs Gilbertson in memory of her husband, Canon Gilbertson, in 1940.

Descriptive line

Diptych leaf, Ivory, the Curcifixion, North Italian (Venice), ca. 1360-1390

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

part 1, pp. 316-317
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. 316-317, cat. no. 107

Materials

Ivory

Subjects depicted

Angels; Cross

Categories

Sculpture; Christianity; Religion; Death

Collection

Sculpture Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.