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The Crucifixion

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Reims (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 860-870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory carved in high relief

  • Museum number:

    303-1867

  • Gallery location:

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

This is an ivory panel depicting the Crucifixion, made in France (Metz) in about 880-900. Ivory was used all over Europe for religious works of art. It was often combined with precious metals and usually took the form of relief panels, for book covers, portable altars and caskets. An almost unbroken tradition of ivory carving extends from the Roman and Byzantine empires until the end of the 14th century. From about 1250, Paris became the centre of production for figures and reliefs intended for private devotion. This was probably taken from a book cover.

Physical description

Beneath the feet of Christ on the cross is the coiled serpent and on the cross the titulus IHS is inscribed above Christ's head. To the left are the Virgin and Longinus with a spear; to the right St. John and Stephaton offering the sponge. Above the arms of the cross are six little angel figures flying and stooping towards the cross, which is surmounted by half-length figures of the Sun and Moon. Below, eight of the dead rise shrouded from their tombs. There is a narrow inner border of leaves and an outer border of diamonds and circles.
The large circular hole is presumably post-medieval and was probably made for hanging the plaque on a wall.
The back is plain, and has been lightly cross-hatched to aid adhesion to a book-cover. At the top on the back, above the hole, are incised the letters HP.

Place of Origin

Reims (probably, made)

Date

ca. 860-870 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Ivory carved in high relief

Dimensions

Height: 13.8 cm, Width: 7.5 cm, Depth: 1.2 cm, Weight: 0.1 kg

Object history note

Purchased from T.J. Bartlett, London, £10.

Historical context note

The large circular hole is presumably post-medieval and was probably made for hanging the plaque on a wall. The back is plain, and has been lightly cross-hatched to aid adhesion to a book-cover.

Descriptive line

Panel, ivory, the Crucifixion, Court School of Charles the Bald, Reims or Saint-Denis, ca. 860-70

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. 11
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part I, p. 69
Lasko, Peter. Ars Sacra, 800-1200. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972, p. 67, pl. 61
Gaborit-Chopin, Danielle. Ivories du Moyen Age. Fribourg: Office du Livre, cop., 1978, p. 68
Avori Medievali. Museo Nazaonale del Bargello. Florence: S.P.E.S., 1988, cat. no. 9
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 180, 1, cat.no. 43

Production Note

Northen French, probably Reims or Saint-Denis, Court School of Charles the Bald

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

High relief

Subjects depicted

Serpents (animal); Angel; Spear; Cross

Categories

Christianity; Sculpture; Religion; Reliefs; Plaques & Plaquettes

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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