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Plaque - Angel Musicians

Angel Musicians

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (probably Italy (Venice), made)

  • Date:

    mid nineteenth century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved elephant ivory in ebony frame

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ivory plaque, showing angels musicians, is probably made in Venice, Italy, in the middle of the nineteenth century. The plaque duplicates part of the top half of the right side of a marble altar frontal of about 1480 in the church of San Trovaso in Venice. The sides of this frontal were much copied, and a number of examples in terracotta survive. The plaque and frame, with the Gritti arms, would have greatly appealed to the Grand Tourists of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, and they were probably made only shortly before their appearance for sale in Paris in 1857.

Physical description

This plaque depicts angels playing on musical instruments, in an ebony frame. The plaque shows in the foreground a lightly draped angel playing a lute, his mouth open in song. To the left, and slightly behind, a second angel plays the viol; three further angels' heads appear in the background (and a halo denoting the presence of another). The plaque is set into a frame veneered with ebony and dark wood decorated with fillets of ivory, many now loose. To either side of the plaque are carved wooden pilasters ornamented at the base with the coat of arms of Doge Andrea Gritti (r. 1523-38).

Place of Origin

Italy (probably Italy (Venice), made)


mid nineteenth century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved elephant ivory in ebony frame


Height: 10.8 cm ivory only, Width: 12.6 cm ivory only, Length: 26.3 cm with frame, Width: 26.6 cm with frame

Object history note

In the possession of John Webb, London, by 1857; purchased from Webb in 1858, £25.

Descriptive line

Plaque, carved ivory in ebony frame, angels playing on musical instruments, probably Italy (Venice), middle of the nineteenth century in the style of ca. 1500

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1858. 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. 15
p. 18
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
pl. LVII, no. 2
Maskell, A., Ivories, London, 1905
p. 128
Longhurst, Margaret H., Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929
part I, pp. 544-545
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 I, pp. 544-545, cat. no. 187


Ivory; Ebony



Subjects depicted

Angels; Musical instrument


Plaques & Plaquettes; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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