Scenes from the book of Joshua
- Place of origin:
second half of 10th century (made)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 2
This ivory plaque, made in Constantinople in the second half of the tenth century, comes from the side of an ivory casket. Such recepticles were often decorated with scenes inspired by Roman art and mythology. The panel depicts the biblical hero Joshua. The scenes can be matched exactly in, and were probably copied from the Joshua Rotulus manuscript in the Vatican Library, which itself derived from a 5th-6th century model. The plaque is a telling example for the legacy of Roman imagery and adapted style. The dimensions of the plaque indicate that the casket from which it - or the component parts - came was of larger than average size. Such caskets would have been suitable as gifts to high-ranking military commanders or the Emperor himself.
The panel depict two scenes. In the first Joshua sits upon a chair receiving two men who offer gifts wrapped in their mantles, in the second he appears to beckon to two warriors armed with shields and helmets.The plaque is made up of three pieces which were presumably joined together after the panels had been detached from a casket.
Place of Origin
second half of 10th century (made)
Materials and Techniques
Height: 7.3 cm at left, Height: 7 cm at right, Depth: 1.5 cm, Weight: 0.26 kg, Width: 27 cm
Object history note
Acquired from John Webb in 1867.
Historical significance: The scenes can be matched exacly in, and were probably copied from the Joshua Rotulus manuscript in the Vatican Library, which itself derived from a 5th-6th century model. The plaque is a telling example for the legacy of Roman imagery and adapted style.
Historical context note
The casket to which the pieces were originally attached would have been decorated with rosettes such as the Veroli casket.
Plaque, ivory, depicting Joshua receiving envoys from Gibeon, Byzanz (Constantinople), second half of 10th century
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Cutler, A. The Hand of the Master: Craftsmenship, Ivory, and Society in Byzantium (9th-11th centuries). Princeton, 1994, pp. 84, 264 n. 18.
Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1867. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868., p. 10.
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929. Part I. p. 39.
Talbot Rice, David & Hirmer, Max, The Art of Byzantium, London, Thames & Hudson, 1959
Schapiro, Meyer. The Place of the Joshua Roll in Byzantine History. Gazette des Beaus-arts. 91, 1949. pp. 161-176.
Cf. Beckwith, John. The Veroli Casket. London: H.M.S.O., 1962. p. 3.
Cutler, A. Mistaken Antiquity: Thoughts on some recent commentary on Rosette caskets. In: Sevcenko, I. and Hutter, I., eds. AETOS: Studies in honour of Cyril Mango. Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1998, pp. 46-54.
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 74, 5, cat.no. 14
Byzantine Art, a European Art, Athens : Printing Office of the Institut Français d'Athènes, 1964
Talbot Rice, David, Masterpieces of Byzantine Art, Edinburgh Festival Society, Ediinburgh, 1958
Egger, Gerhart, Kunst der Ostkirche: Ikonen, Handschriften, Kultgerate, Stift Herzogenburg, 1977