Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Plaque - Christ in Majesty

Christ in Majesty

  • Object:

    Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    first half of 11th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bone

  • Museum number:

    A.5-1955

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case DR10

This Anglo-Saxon plaque is probably from the first half of the 11th century and represents Christ in Majesty.
The function of the plaque remains unclear. Apparently too small to adorn the centre of a book-cover - the plaque was perhaps mounted on one side of the head of a metal tau-cross of similar design to the contemporary St Heribert tau-cross in Cologne. Alternatively it may have been set into a small reliquary or formed part of a pendant, held in place with metal sheets overlapping the stepped border.
The figure style, the depiction of the fluttering folds of drapery below the left knee of the figure and the general type of Christ in Majesty with the tall, thin diptych book, link the plaque to Anglo-Saxon images in walrus ivory and manuscripts of the first half of the 11th century. It can be compared with the mid-eleventh-century stone relief of Christ in Barnack Church in Cambridgeshire.

Physical description

The nimbed figure of Christ is shown seated on a rainbow, looking to his right. He blesses with his right hand and holds with his left the top of a diptych book which rests on his knee. The figure is enclosed within a plain raised border with a stepped outline. The outer border is chipped in places, especially at the bottom, but the surface is largely undamaged.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

first half of 11th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Bone

Dimensions

Height: 5 cm, Width: 2.5 cm

Object history note

On the back of the plaque is a paper label, with inscription: '[this pl]aque was dug up in the / [garden] of the Rectory at Leckhamstead / which was formerly a Convent. / [fou]nd by Miss Reed. 1831'. It was shown by a Mrs White to the British Archaeological Association on 11 January 1860 and subsequently illustrated. It then passed into the Harman Oates collection, being sold at Sotheby's in London, 20 February 1929. to Dr Tancred Borenius. Then on loan to the V&A from 1930-1955. Purchased from Madame Borenius, Coombe Bisset, near Salisbury, in 1955, £50.

Historical significance: The figure style, the depiction of the fluttering folds of drapery below the left knee of the figure and the general type of Christ in Majesty with the tall, thin diptych book, link the plaque to Anglo-Saxon images in walrus ivory and manuscripts of the first half of the 11th century. It can be compared with the mid-eleventh-century stone relief of Christ in Barnack Church in Cambridgeshire.

Historical context note

The function of the plaque remains unclear. Apparently too small to adorn the centre of a book-cover - the plaque was perhaps mounted on one side of the head of a metal tau-cross of similar design to the contemporary St Heribert tau-cross in Cologne. Alternatively it may have been set into a small reliquary or formed part of a pendant, held in place with metal sheets overlapping the stepped border. It is worth comparing it to the small eleventh century reliquary pendant of copper alloy from Sandford-on-Thames, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which shows Christ in Majesty seated on a rainbow.

Descriptive line

Plaque, bone, Christ in Majesty, Anglo-Saxon, probably first half of the 11th century

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

Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 254, 5, cat.no. 65
Beckwith, J. Ivory Carvings in Early Medieval England, London, 1972, pp. 53-57, cat. no. 42, fig. 77

Materials

Bone

Subjects depicted

Rainbow; Book

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

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.