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Crozier head

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    fourteenth century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory, painted and gilded with gilt-copper crocketing, mounted on a shaft of gilt-copper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a head of a crozier, made in France (Paris), the ivory volute either being from the fourteenth or the nineteenth century, with mid-nineteenth century metalwork additions. Despite being accepted as of Gothic date in earlier publications (cit. Williamson, 2014), the authenticity of the metal components of this crozier should certainly be called into question, and it may be that the ivory portion is recarved and freshly painted if not entirely of nineteenth-century date.
If the ivory volute is modern, the style of the carving is very accomplished and unlike some nineteenth-century fakes or copies does not immediately betray a later date. The craftsman or craftsmen responsible for making the crozier must have been both skilled and knowledgeable, and were probably active in the Parisian world of restoration around the middle of the nineteenth century.

The name crozier is commonly used for the crook-shaped pastoral staff of a bishop or abbot. It forms part of their insignia.
It was carried as a symbol of authority and pastoral care. It was made of various materials, but by the twelfth century ivory was in widespread use for the head of the crozier. The shaft was often made of wood, occasionally embellished with metal knops, although on Italian Gothic examples, ivory and bone cylinders were used in construction. French Gothic ivory crozier heads are predominantly of one design, with the Crucifixion and the Virgin and St John on one side and the Virgin and Child, flanked by candle-bearing angels, on the other. It appears that the principal face was that to be seen when the volute of the crozier was facing to the right.

Physical description

Crozier, comprised of two parts, the ivory figures and a later metal mount (knop and shaft).
The openwork ivory volute, supported by a kneeling angel on a foliate console, is carved on the front with the standing Virgin and Child between two angels, both holding candles; at the Virgin's feet is a dragon. On the reverse is Christ on the cross between the Virgin and St John the Evangelist, and above his head are the sun and moon. The crook is decorated at three corners by pairs of vine leaves which enclose human masks (not visible from the back): the outer two pairs of leaves contain a single head, while that at the top of the stem holds two. The crook has been embellished with three sections of gilt-copper crockets on its outer edge. The gilt-copper shaft is decorated with foliate designs on a matted ground with lozenges; above, a foliate capital supports the integrally-cast knop. This is in the form of a small building of hexagonal plan with tiled roof, each side having a niche with crocketed canopy and open tracery above. The figures in the niches can be identified as St Thomas, St Paul, St John the Evangelist, St Cecilia, St Peter and St Bartholomew.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


fourteenth century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory, painted and gilded with gilt-copper crocketing, mounted on a shaft of gilt-copper


Height: 20 cm of ivory crozier, Height: 43.5 cm total, including metal shaft, Width: 9.8 cm not including metal crockets

Object history note

In the collection of Prince Petr Soltykoff, Paris, until 1861; bought by John Webb, London, at the Soltykoff sale (Soltykoff 1861, lot 202); purchased from Webb in 1862 for £265.

Descriptive line

Crozier head, ivory, painted and gilded, and gilt-copper crocketing, France (Paris), the ivory volute either fourteenth or nineteenth century, with mid-nineteenth century metalwork additions

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

pp. 34-35
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
pp. 202-203, pl. XLII
Maskell, A., Ivories, London, 1905
I, pp. 271, 272, II, cat. no. 773
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
pp. 35-36
Longhurst, Margaret H., Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929
part 1, pp. 446-449
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
Watts, W.W., Catalogue of Pastoral Staves, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1924
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. 446-449, cat. no. 154

Labels and date

Gilt copper and ivory
Early 19th century
The crozier is copied from another in the Musée Cluny in Paris. However, the Paris example retains none of the figures under the arcades on the knop, although an engraving executed between 1838 and 1846 offered a reconstruction of their arrangement: the Soltikoff crozier was probably derived from this. []


Ivory; Gold; Copper

Subjects depicted

Vine leaves; Sun; Angel; Moon; Building


Sculpture; Christianity; Religion; Ceremonial objects


Metalwork Collection

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