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Scenes from the Passion of Christ

  • Object:

    Diptych

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1330-1350 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ivory with traces of gilding

  • Museum number:

    5623-1859

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This Diptych of carved ivory shows scenes from the Passion of Christ, and was made in Paris, in about 1330-1350.
1. Judas receiving the money from the chief priests. 2. The Betrayal with the cutting off of Malchus' ear. 3. Christ before Pilate. 4. Pilate washing his hands. 5. The death of Judas. 6. The Buffeting of Christ. 7. The stripping before the Flagellation. 8. The Flagellation. 9. Christ carrying his cross. 10. The Crucifixion

Ivory plaques were normally arranged in diptychs or triptychs. Diptychs consisted of two tablets hinged together, while triptychs were two tablets hinged on either side of a central tablet. The smaller ones were probably held in the hand and opened like a small book, while the larger ones would have stood open on a table or altar.
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

This diptych is divided into two registers, each topped with a row of three trefoil arches. Each arcade is surmounted an arch with crockets, while between each arch is a recessed trefoil pattern. The scenes read from left to right, starting at the lower left. Scenes from the Passion are in four compartments, each surmounted by a triple arcade of trefoil arches. 1. Judas receiving the money from the chief priests. 2. The Betrayal with the cutting off of Malchus' ear. 3. Christ before Pilate. 4. Pilate washing his hands. 5. The death of Judas. 6. The Buffeting of Christ. 7. The stripping before the Flagellation. 8. The Flagellation. 9. Christ carrying his cross. 10. The Crucifixion with Mary and St John the Evangelist, which features Longinus, Stephaton and a small figure of a man hammering the nail into Christ's feet. The final scene is now blank, although in the upper area a cross is visible.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

ca. 1330-1350 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved ivory with traces of gilding

Dimensions

Height: 17.6 cm, Width: 21.9 cm both leafs, Depth: 1 cm Approximately

Object history note

In the Jules Soulages Collection, Toulouse, by 1856, when it was seen by John Webb, who described it as 'i ivory diptic, incomplete' and valued it along with two other ivories at £60. Bought together with the rest of the Soulages Collection in 1856 by a subscription committee and then purchased by the Museum in 1859 (£20).

Descriptive line

Diptych, carved ivory, with scenes from the Passion of Christ, French (Paris), ca. 1330-1350

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1859. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 32
p. 96
Robinson, John Charles. Catalogue of the Soulages Collection. London: Chapman & Hall, 1856
pp. 23-25
Maskell, W. A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
I, pp. 155, 167-68, II, cat. no. 288, III, pl. LXXII
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
part 1, pp. 260-261
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
p. 18, pl. XIV
Longhurst, Margaret H., Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929
p. 96
Robinson, John Charles. Catalogue of the Soulages Collection. London: Chapman & Hall, 1856
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. 260-261, cat. no. 83

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Carving; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Arches; Priests; Cross; Money

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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