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Book cover - The Healing of the Blind Man and The Healing of the Leper
  • The Healing of the Blind Man and The Healing of the Leper
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The Healing of the Blind Man and The Healing of the Leper

  • Object:

    Book cover

  • Place of origin:

    Lorraine (Metz, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 870-880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory carved in high relief

  • Museum number:

    255-1867

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 11

This is one of two ivory plaques, probably from a book cove, made in Lorraine (Metz) in about 870-880.
This plaque shows Christ healing the Leper and the Blind, while the other (Mus. no. 256-1867) would show the Transfiguration.
During the period 900-1200, ivories were produced all over Europe, often in monasteries and ecclesiastical or royal courts. The pieces were used for liturgical purposes. Ivory carvings appeared on book covers, reliquary caskets, antependia (the panel in front of an altar) and religious icons.
Melzak convincingly connected the plaques with the Later Metz ivory panels of the border of the 'Cathedra Petri' in Rome and dated them to 870- 80. Iconographically the scenes of the healing of the leper and the healing of the blind man may be compared with those on the contemporary plaques in Berlin and Würzburg and products in Metz.

Physical description

In the lower scene of the panel Christ is accompanied by two apostles and touches with his thumb the eyes of the blind man, who is guided forward by three helpers. Above, Christ, with four disciples following, heals the leper, the latter's left arm and both legs covered with raised sores. The scenes are enclosed with foliate border, itself contained inside a plain frame. The background to the plaque is extremely thin and affected by a number of vertical cracks. There are pin-holes in the corners for fixing the plaque to a separate backing.

Place of Origin

Lorraine (Metz, made)

Date

ca. 870-880 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory carved in high relief

Dimensions

Height: 8.2 cm, Width: 5.8 cm, Depth: 0.7 cm, Weight: 0.02 kg

Object history note

Purchased from Webb, £25.

Historical context note

Melzak convincingly connected the plaques with the Later Metz ivory panels of the border of the 'Cathedra Petri' in Rome and dated them to 870-80. Iconographically the scenes of the healing of the leper and the healing of the blind man may be compared with those on the contemporary plaques in Berlin and Würzburg and products in Metz.

Descriptive line

Book cover, ivory, The Healing of the Blind Man and the Healing of the Leper, Carolingian, France, Lorraine (Metz), ca. 870-880

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

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. 65
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 194-5, cat.no. 47
Melzak, R. The Carolingian Ivory Carvings of the Later Metz Group. Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1983, cat. nos. 16-17, pp. 100-4, 158-61, 165-67, 169-71, figs 62-63

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

High relief; Carving

Subjects depicted

Foliate; Man; Mandorlas

Categories

Christianity; Sculpture; Religion; Plaques & Plaquettes

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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