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The Betrayal and the Entombment

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (Mosan or Rhenish , made)

  • Date:

    1375-1400 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mr Gilbertson in memory of her husband Canon Gilbertson

  • Museum number:

    A.22-1940

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ivory plaque from a set of writing tablets, is made in Germany (Mosan or Rhenish), ca. 1375-1400. Jesus Christ is depicted in the centre restoring the ear of Malchus while receiving the kiss of Judas, while on the left St. Peter puts up his sword. In the lower scene Christ lies on a shroud in the tomb and is anointed by Nicodemus who stands between the Virgin and St. John. Both of the scenes are surmounted by five cusped and crocketted arches.
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

Cover of a set of writing tablets, ivory. The plaque is carved in two registers, each beneath an arcade of five trefoil arches. Christ in the second restores the ear of Malchus while receiving the kiss of Judas. To the left St. Peter puts up his sword. Below is shown the Entombment and Christ lies on a shroud in the tomb anointed by Nicodemus who stands between the Virgin and St John (represented as bearded). The back is sunk in compartments to receive wax. The surface of the ivory is considerably worn.

Place of Origin

Germany (Mosan or Rhenish , made)

Date

1375-1400 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory

Dimensions

Height: 11.5 cm, Width: 6.6 cm

Object history note

Before 1917 the leaf was in the collection of Alfred Trapnell of Bristol and Borunemouth (1838-1917). In the collection of Canon Lewis Gilbertson, Rector of St Maritn's Church, Ludgate Hill, London, before 1928. Bequeathed by Mrs Gilberston (d. 1940) in memory of her husband, 1940. The earlier history of the leaf is speculative.

Descriptive line

Plaque, ivory, from a set of writing tablets, Germany (Mosan or Rhenish), ca. 1375-1400

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

part 1, pp. 378-379
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. 378-379, cat. no. 133

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Carved

Categories

Sculpture; Christianity; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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