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Relief - St Martin and the Beggar

St Martin and the Beggar

  • Object:

    Relief

  • Place of origin:

    China (or Hispano-filipino, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590 - ca. 1610 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Sir Victor Wellesley in 1954, London.

  • Museum number:

    A.8-1955

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case DR6

Ivory was popular as a material for religious subjects, especially during the 17th and 18th centuries. Spanish and Portuguese patrons imported ivories carved with Christian imagery from their territories overseas, such as the Philippines, Mexico and Goa. German and Netherlandish artists were renowned for their dexterity in ivory carving. Their reliefs are masterpieces of composition and virtuosity. On this relief St Martin is shown dividing his cloak to give half to a beggar.
This composition is based on a Netherlandish print. The Chinese carver copied the devotional inscription in Latin from the print ("He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again"), but the cursive script underneath, which probably gave the names of the engraver and publisher of the source were rendered indecipherable on the ivory. The relief is based on an engraving from the late sixteenth century by the Flemish print maker and designer Adriaen Collaert, after the Flemish artist Johannes Stradanus.

Physical description

St. Martin on horseback, divides his cloak with a sword and is presenting it to the crippled beggar leaning on a crutch on the right of the relief. Behind the beggar and slightly further to the right is a young man, above him the branches of a tree. On the left are two older male figures, before an architectural background, and below them, a hound. At the foot of the relief is a panel with two inscriptions, one of which is in a cursive script and indecipherable. A hole has been drilled into the top of the relief for suspension. The horse's bridle is broken.

Place of Origin

China (or Hispano-filipino, made)

Date

ca. 1590 - ca. 1610 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved ivory

Marks and inscriptions

'FOENERATUR DOMINO, QUI MISERETUR FAVERIS / ET VICISSITUDINEM SUAM REDDET EI / PROVEB. XIX.'
'He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.'
Latin; At the foot of the relief

Indecipherable. Probably gave the names of the engraver and publisher of the Netherlandish print it copied.
Cursive; At the foot of the relief

Dimensions

Height: 14.5 cm, Width: 9.5 cm

Object history note

This relief is based on an engraving from the late sixteenth century by the Flemish print maker and designer Adriaen Collaert, after the Flemish artist Johannes Stradanus. The carver copied the devotional inscription in Latin from the print ("He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again"), but the cursive script underneath, which probably gave the names of the engraver and publisher of the source were rendered indecipherable on the ivory. The style of carving, fusing Asian and European forms, is typical of ivories of sacred subjects made in China and the Philippines for export to Spain, and it is likely to date from the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, based on the late sixteenth-century engraved source.

Descriptive line

Relief, ivory, 'St Martin and the Beggar', Hispano-filipino or Chinese, ca. 1590-1610

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

Clunas, Craig. Chinese Carving, London, 1996, pp. 15-16 and fig. 3
pp. 351, 352
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, pp. 351, 352, cat. no. 346

Production Note

Based on a Netherlandish print. By a Chinese carver.

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Dog; Horse; Charity; City; Beggar; Poverty; Cloaks; Swords

Categories

Sculpture; Christianity; Reliefs; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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