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Saint Paul

  • Object:

    Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    Saxony (or Franconia, probably, made)

  • Date:

    first quarter of 13th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory

  • Museum number:

    274-1867

  • Gallery location:

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

This ivory panel can be related to German works produced around the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century. A small group of ivories, including a 'Flight into Egypt' in the Museo Nazionale in Florence, and a 'Tree of Jesse', now shared by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre, possibly carved in Bamberg, provide some convincing parallels, especially interlaced branches of the trees beside St. Paul. Large-scale sculpture of the early 13th century provides some comparable works. It is not so much specific details that relate works but the spirit underlying them: the preaching St. Paul and the disputing prophets of the choir screen show a similar external expression, in their vitality and dynamism and in their swirling draperies, of the vehemence of their words. Compared with the solidity and dignity of the figures on the other ivories, this panel is clearly looking forward into the 13th century, nearer to the beginning of German Gothic sculpture, soon to emerge at Bamberg itself.

St Paul's normal attributes are a sword and a book, but the voluminous scroll he carries here, and the inscription around the border, would seem to bear particular reference to his Epistles. The plaque almost certainly therefore decorated the front cover of a copy of the Epistles of St Paul or - less likely - the Acts of the Apostles, where his conversions is described. Such books were widely popular in Germany at this date.

Physical description

St. Paul, with plain nimbus, stands between two trees, holding a furled scroll in his left hand and with his right hand raised in address.

Place of Origin

Saxony (or Franconia, probably, made)

Date

first quarter of 13th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Ivory

Marks and inscriptions

'PERNICIES. FIDEI.SAULUS. CEDENDO. FIDELES. INVIGILA(T FI(DEI. VERBA. SERENDO. DI'
'Saul, the destroyer of the faithful, after his conversion, whatches over the faith, preaching the word of God'
Inscription around the border

Dimensions

Height: 10.4 cm, Width: 6.8 cm

Object history note

In the possession of John Webb, London, by 1862 (London 1862, cat. no. 61); purchased from Webb in 1867, for £15.

Historical context note

St Paul normal attributes are a sword and a book, but the voluminous scroll he carries here, and the inscription around the border, would seem to bear particular reference to his Epistles. The plaque almost certainly therefore decorated the front cover of a copy of the Epistles of St Paul or - less likely - the Acts of the Apostles, where his conversions is described. Such books were widely popular in Germany at this date.

Descriptive line

Plaque, ivory, depicting Saint Paul with scroll, Germany (probably Franconia or Saxony), first quarter of 13th century

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. 80
Little, Charles T. An Ivory Tree of Jesse from Bamberg. Pantheon. 33, 1975, pp. 292-300
Die Zeit der Staufer. n. 628. pl. 433. Catalogue of the exhibition held Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart, 1977, pl. 433
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 308,9 , cat.no. 79

Materials

Ivory

Subjects depicted

Crook; Scrolls (information artifacts); Trees

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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