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The Deposition

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1400-1410 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Elephant ivory, carved; mounter on a wooden disc covered with red silk (undoubteldly from the nineteenth century.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case 8

This is a miniature relief depicting the Deposition, made in France (Paris) in about 1400-1410. There are no fewer than eleven other versions of this composition known at present, most sharing all the principal components of the scene if not the round shape, and all carved in the same style, presumably emanating from one workshop. There has been general scholarly consensus in recent years that this group - and the larger total ensemble of over fifty related ivories carved in the same style, often painted - were produced in the Parisian artistic milieu of the manuscript workshops serving Jean de France, the Duc de Berry and other members of the French royal court in the first two decades of the fifteenth century.
The original context of the present V&A roundel cannot be reconstructed with certainty as the reliefs of this type were used in a variety of settings. It is possible that it formed the left leaf of a diptych pendant of unusual circular shape, with the Death of the Virgin on the right.

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.

Physical description

Circular relief of ivory carved and pierced and mounted on a wood background covered with red silk, representing the Descent from the Cross or Deposition. Within a narrow raised border are represented the three crosses, on the outer of which hang the two thieves; against the central one lean two ladders, down one of which Joseph of Arimathea descends supporting the body of Our Lord, and assisted by a man who bends over the top of the other ladder. Below are Nicodemus, the Virgin supported by St. John the Evangelist, whil Mary Magdalene clasps the foot of the cross. Various other figures stand about the crosses, which are fixed in rocky ground with trees ans stars behind. Above to the left project a portion of the rayed sun, while on the right was probably a moon (now missing).

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1400-1410 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Elephant ivory, carved; mounter on a wooden disc covered with red silk (undoubteldly from the nineteenth century.


Height: 8.5 cm, Width: 8.3 cm

Object history note

In the collection of Sir Gibson-Carmichael, Bart, Castle Craig; purchased through Messrs Durlacher Brothers, London, at the Gibson-Carmichael sale (Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 12 May 1902, lot 11, for £168).

Descriptive line

Relief (miniature), ivory, the Deposition, France ( Paris), ca. 1400-1410

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

List of Works of Art acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum during the Year 1902 arranged according to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office. Wyman and Sons, 1906, p.188
Didier, R and Recht, R. 'Paris, Prague, Cologne et la sculpture de la seconde moitié du XIV e siècle' in Bulletin Monumental CXXXVIII, 1980, p. 201-2, fig. 38
Didier, R. Miseratio Christi, Redemptio Munid. Propos d' iconographies. Scriptures médiévales de la Passion Feuillets de la Cathedrale de Liege, 1994, nos. 13-15, fig. 15
Mavia Holm, Philipp and Berliner, Rudolf. Das Hallesche Heitum Berlin, 1931
c.f. Leeuwenberg, J. Beeldhounkunst in het Ryksmuseum Amsterdam, 1973, cat. no. 780, 781
Raussen, J. 'Untersuchangen zum Halleschen Heiltum des Kandinals Albrecht von Brandenburg, II' in München Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst. Dritte Folge, Band XXVIII, 1977, pp. 109-114, pls. 64, 65
Panofsky, E. 'A Parisian Goldsmith's Model of the Early Fifteenth Century?' in Beiträ fur George Swanzerski Berlin, 1951, pp. 72 and 77
Czymmek, S. 'Mikrokosmos in Elfenbein' in Klein Festschrift zum dreifachen Jubiläum, Schnühgen- Museum. Koln, 1981, pp. 28-33
Trusted, Marjorie. ed. The Making of Sculpture. The materials and techniques of European sculpture. London, 2007, p. 119, pl. 217
Jopek, N. 'Deukadiual'. Review in Kunstanvouik, vol. 65, 2008, p. 215
p. 183, pl. XL, 7
Maskell, A., Ivories, London, 1905
I, pp. 323 (note 4), 324 (note 1), II, cat. no. 870, III, pl. CLVIII
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
p. 38, pl. XXXIV
Longhurst, Margaret H., Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929
part 1, pp. 456-459
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. 456-459, cat. no. 157



Subjects depicted

Cross; Ladder; Thief


Christianity; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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