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The Glorification of the Virgin

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Russia (Moscow or Novgorod, made)

  • Date:

    1530-1580 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory, probably mammoth, in a backless silver frame, with suspension ring

  • Credit Line:

    Alfred Williams Hearn Bequest

  • Museum number:

    A.21-1931

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a portable ivory icon made in Russia, in Moscow or Novgorod, probably in 1530-1580. It illustrates the hymn of gratitude to the Virgin Mary, 'In Thee rejoiceth', based on the words of St John Damascene, depicting the Virgin and Child in the Heavenly Jerusalem surrounded by angels and saints.
The closely packed figures are all picked out with an extraordinary attention to detail. It was probably one of many variants of this composition, and may derive from an engraved source.

Physical description

In the centre is seated the enthroned Virgin with the Child on her lap, seated within a layered disc. She is surrounded by angels, while before her are rows of adoring Saints. The Archangel Gabriel is shown holding a staff at the right. Below are dense rows of saints - the Blessed - consisting of numerous male and female figures, including prophets, the Russian hierarchs, secular saints, apostles, martyrs and holy women, and a single child in the bottom right corner, all picked out with an extraordinary attention to detail. There is a prominent saint with scroll in his left that can be identified as St John Damascene; behind him is St John the Baptist. The scene takes place before a multi-domed church with trees at the sides, representing the celestial paradise. The words of the hymn, in tiny Slavonic characters, run around the inside of the border and further short texts, in the scroll held by St John, in the sky and to the sides of the Virgin and Child. The back is plain.

Place of Origin

Russia (Moscow or Novgorod, made)

Date

1530-1580 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Ivory, probably mammoth, in a backless silver frame, with suspension ring

Dimensions

Height: 7.8 cm, Width: 7.3 cm

Object history note

Formerly in the Hearn Collection, Menton. It was probably acquired after the death of Alfred William Hearn (1842-1903) by his widow Ellen Hearn (it does not appear in the 1904 inventory in the Hearn nominal file, V&A archives); bequeathed by Mrs Hearn and presented through the executors of her estate in 1931.

Descriptive line

Panel, ivory, The Glorification of the Virgin, Russian (Moscow or Novgorod), probably 1530-1580

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

cf. Money, C.R. Gli oggetti di Avovio e di osso del Museo sacro Vaticano. Vatican. 1936, cat. no. A. 127
cf. Avovi preziosi: un aspecto sconoseinto dell' arte Russa. Milan. 1998, p. 26, no. 4
part II, pp. 868-869
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 II, pp. 868-869, cat. no. 286

Production Note

Russo-Greek.

Materials

Ivory; Silver

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Prophets; Trees; Paradise; Martyrs; Staff; Child; Church; Angels; Apostles; Saints

Categories

Christianity

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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