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Panel - The Filling of the water pots at the Miracle of Cana
  • The Filling of the water pots at the Miracle of Cana
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The Filling of the water pots at the Miracle of Cana

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Syria (Palestine, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ivory

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 2

In this depiction of a Gospel story, the servant on the left fills a water jar from a skin while another holds a narrow bottle.The widespread influence of classical styles makes the dating of ivories such as this difficult. The date of this one has been established by scientific methods.

Physical description

Panel depicting the filling of the water pots at the Miracle of Cana, relief in ivory. In the foreground are six water pots. Behind to the right, a servant balances a jar on his shoulder; to the left, another empties a skin into one of the pots, while a third, in the centre, holds a narrow vase, apparently for perfume. The upper part, including the right arm and part of the head of the central figure, is broken away. The lost upper part of the panel represented the Wedding Feast.

Place of Origin

Syria (Palestine, made)


ca. 650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved ivory


Height: 11.3 cm, Width: 9.2 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm, Weight: 0.08 kg

Object history note

Formerly in the Gambier-Parry collection , Highnam Court, Gloucestershire.

Historical significance: Various places of origin and date have been suggested ranging from South Italy, late eleventh century, Venice and Alexandria. A recent radiocanbon dating established a date bracket for this ivory 650 and 720 and an origin in Syria/Palestine was suggested. This piece demonstrates clearly the influence of classical/hellenistic sources.

Historical context note

The present piece and the relief St Peter dictating the Gospel to St. Mark (270-1867) come From a series of fourteen plaques with scenes from the New Testament and the Life of St. Mark. They formed probably part of an antependium or a pulpit.

Descriptive line

Panel depicting the filling of the water pots at the Miracle of Cana, relief in ivory, Syrian ca. 650.

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

P. Williamson, 'On the date of the Symmachi Panel and the so-called Grado Chair Ivories, in Through a Glass Brightly: Studies in Byzantine and Medieval Art and Archeology. Presented to David Buckton, C. Entwistle (ed.), London, 2003, pp. 47-50.
Bergman, Robert P. The Salerno Ivories: Ars Sacra from Medieval Amalfi. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1980. pp. 58, 79. fig. 102.
Williamson, Paul. The review of The Salerno ivories : ars sacra from medieval Amalfi. The Burlington Magazine. CXXIV. 1982. pp. 299-300.
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929. Part I. p. 33.
Williamson, Paul. On the date of the Symmachi panel and the so-called Grado Chair ivories. In: Entwistle, Chris. ed. Throuth a glass brightly. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2003. p. 49. figs. 6.1, 6.4.
Burlington Magazine. CIX, 1967. p. 116. fig. 46.
Dell'Acqua, Francesca; Cutler, Anthony; Kessler, Herbert L.; Shalem, Avinoam; Wolf, Gerhard, eds. The Salerno Ivories: Objects, Histories, Contexts, Berlin, 2016, pp. 55-56, 69.
Bonger, A., Miracula Christi, Stadische Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, 1962
Bologna, Ferdinando (ed.), L'enigma degli avori medievali da Amalfi a Salerno, Napoli : Paparo, 2008
Bovini, Guiseppe & Ottolenghi, Luisa Bona (eds.), Catalogo della mostra degli avori dell'alto Medio-evo, Ravenna, Ministero della pubblica istruzione, 1956

Subjects depicted

Wine-skins; Servants; Vases; Perfume bottles; Containers; Urns


Sculpture; Religion; Christianity


Sculpture Collection

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