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Diptych leaf - The Crucifixion and the Flagellation

The Crucifixion and the Flagellation

  • Object:

    Diptych leaf

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1330-1350 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is the left leaf from an ivory Diptych, made in France, Paris in ca. 1330-1350. The panel is divided into two tiers each of which is surmounted by a triple arch of trefoil arches. The top section depicts the Crucifixion while the lower section shows the Flagellation. The other leaf is in the Liverpool museum. The Liverpool leaf depicts the Carrying of the Cross in the lower registe and the Deposition in the upper.
The devotional diptych is in many ways the object type most associated with the notion of Gothic ivory carving. The earliest examples probably date to the 1240s; these are complex, large and ambitious works that emerged, somewhat surprisingly, with no obvious precursors. The owners of ivory diptychs sometimes appear within their images. Such portraits indicate that they were special requests on the part of their commissioners, and they parallel the similar figures that appear in manuscripts and panel paintings of the period. The iconography of Gothic diptychs oscillated between two poles. The first of which is the desire to present narratives (Life of Christ and Virgin Mary) for envisaging. The second was the use of non-narrative images to form the focus of devotion.

Physical description

Left leaf of an ivory diptych carved with scenes from the Passion of Christ. Divided into two compartments, each tier surmounted by a triple arcade of trefoil arches, above is the Crucifixion and below, the Scourging of Christ or Flagellation. The right leaf is in The Liverpool Museum.
In the Flagellation Christ is shown with his wrists bound to the column. He stands with his legs splayed, while to either side stand his tormentors, wielding flails. While Christ is barefoot, both tormentors wear shoes. In the Crucifixion scene Christ hangs on the cross beneath the central arch, while two groups of three figures are disposed under the flanking arches. The group on the left shows the Virgin collapsing in grief, her hand flung out to either side, and supported from behind by her sister Mary, the wife of Cleophas, while Mary Magdalene stands behind, holding her ointment jar. On the right, St John the Evangelist recoils in horror, raising his hand to his face in grief while holding a brook in his left. Behind the tow Jews are shown in dialogue, the figure at the front pointing to Christ with his right hand, and holding a blank speech scroll in his left.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1330-1350 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory


Height: 20.1 cm, Width: 10.4 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Henry Willet, Brighton, in 1896 (with Mus. no. 162-1896, for £70). Nothing is known prior to that. Willet (1823-1905) was one of the founders of the Brighton Museum, and is best known for his internationally important collection of Englsih ceramics.

Descriptive line

Ditych leaf, left, Ivory, with the Flagellation and the Crucifixion, French (Paris), ca. 1330-1350

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

List of Objects in the Art Division South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1896. Arranged according to the dates of acquisition, with appendix and indices. London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office. Wyman and Sons, 1900, pp. 25
Longhurst, Margaret, H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. II. London: The Board of Education, 1929, p. 80
Gibson, M. The Liverpool Ivories: Late Antique and Medieval Ivory and bone carving in Liverpool Museum and the Walker Art Gallery. London, 1994, cat. no. 35, pp. 86-87
Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age. Princeton, 1997, p. 176
I, pp. 170-171, II, cat. no. 290, III, pl. LXXIV
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
part 1, pp. 272-275
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 1, pp. 272-275, cat. no. 88



Subjects depicted

Cross; Scroll; Jar


Christianity; Religion


Sculpture Collection

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