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Casket lid - Two Warriors on Horseback

Two Warriors on Horseback

  • Object:

    Casket lid

  • Place of origin:

    Constantinople (made)

  • Date:

    mid 11th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory with traces of paint

  • Museum number:

    A.542:1-1910

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This plaque is from Byzantine (Constantinople), probably from the mid 11th century.
It originally formed the lid of a small casket. There are remains of crimson pigmentation, indicating that the plaque was completely painted in this colour, although probably not originally.
Unusually for Byzantine caskets, this lid is carved from a solid plaque of ivory rather than being constructed from separate elements pegged to a wooden core.

Physical description

Two mounted warriors face each other, the one on the left holding a lance, the other a sword. Both carry round shields on their backs, strapped over their shoulders. Behind each warrior a stubby trunk of a tree emerges from the border. The integral border is composed of interlaced scrolls, with lozenges in the interstices, forming circles filled with leaves, animals, a griffin and birds.

Place of Origin

Constantinople (made)

Date

mid 11th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory with traces of paint

Dimensions

Height: 7.8 cm, Length: 16.8 cm

Object history note

The plaque originally formed the lid of a small casket. There are remains of crimson pigmentation, indicating that the plaque was completely painted in this colour, although probably not originally.
From the Salting bequest (1910).

Historical context note

Unusually for Byzantine caskets, this lid is carved from a solid plaque of ivory rather than being constructed from separate elements pegged to a wooden core.

Descriptive line

Casket lid, ivory, with warriors on horseback, Byzantine (Constantinople), probably mid 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. 104, 5 , cat.no. 22
Goldschmidt, A. and Weitzmann, K. Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X. - XIII. Jahrhunderts, Erster Band: Kaesten, Berlin, 1930 (reprinted, Berlin, 1979), cat.no. 42, pl. XXI
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part I. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1927, p. 38
'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 88

Production Note

probably mid 11th century

Materials

Ivory; Paint

Subjects depicted

Scrolls; Rabbit; Shields; Horses; Lance; Sword; Warriors; Treetrunk; Birds; Leaves; Griffin; Animals; Goat

Categories

Containers; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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