Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

The Crucifixion

  • Object:

    House altar

  • Place of origin:

    Dieppe (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1760 - ca. 1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Belleteste, Jean-Antoine, born 1731 - died 1811 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory in glazed ebony frame

  • Credit Line:

    Given in memory of David Black by his sons

  • Museum number:

    A.46-1978

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 3, case CA15

This is an ivory house-altar depicting a Crucifixion scene and is attributed to Jean-Antoine Belleteste (1731-1811).The Belleteste family was one of the foremost families of ivory carvers in France. There are no signed pieces known by him, nevertheless the attribution of this altar is made on the grounds of the intricate detail of this piece which is consistent with his other work. Christ is shown on the cross with the figures of the sorrowing Virgin, St John the Evangelist and St Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross. The whole is housed in a glazed ebony case which stands on four bun feet of ivory. The fine detailing and the iconography used for the Passion are typical of the work of the Belleteste family of ivory carvers, who were active in Dieppe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Two closely similar crucifixion scenes are in the Chateau-Musée of Dieppe, signed by Belleteste (almost certainly Jean-Antoine): one is dated 1761. Dieppe was a leading centre of ivory carving during the 18th and 19th centuries. Jean-Antoine Belleteste, to whom this house-altar is attributed, and his family were among the most renowned of the ivory sculptors active there at that time.

Physical description

Christ is shown on the cross with the figures of the sorrowing Virgin, St John the Evangelist and St Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross. The whole is housed in a glazed ebony case which standson four bun feet of ivory. The inner surface of the top of the case in which the ivory is housed is studded with stars. Symbols of the Passion are shown fixed on the backing behind, including a column with a cockerel, the sun and moon, clouds from which a ray of lightning shoots forth, a lantern, a gauntlet, Veronica’s handkerchief, a ladder, the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas issuing from a money bag, and at the foot of the cross the dice and Christ’s robes (see Hall 1980. pp. 81-6 for teh iconography). On either side of a cartouche on the base, which is adorned with the Lamb of God, is the inscription: 'Sculpté a Dieppe - Par Belleteste'. On each of the two front corners of the base is a cartouche with two cherubim.

Place of Origin

Dieppe (made)

Date

ca. 1760 - ca. 1790 (made)

Artist/maker

Belleteste, Jean-Antoine, born 1731 - died 1811 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Ivory in glazed ebony frame

Marks and inscriptions

'Sculpté a Dieppe - Par Belleteste'
at front of ivory base

Dimensions

Height: 34.6 cm with frame, Width: 21.4 cm of frame, Depth: 6.35 cm of frame

Object history note

Given by Bernard Black, Black-Nadeu Gallery, Monte Carlo, Monaco [Given in memory of David Black by his sons Bernard, Ruby and Harold]. Provenance: Louis Marie Adelaide de Bourbon-Ponthièvre, Duchesse douarière d'Orléans [mother of future King Louis Philippe]. Bequeathed by her to the Marquis de Circello. By decent to the owners who put it up for auction at Sotheby's 13 April, 1978, lot 201. Bought in (at £2,500). Then given to Museum by Black in June 1978.

Historical significance: Two closely similar crucifixion scenes are in the Chateau-Musée of Dieppe, signed by Belleteste (almost certainly Jean-Antoine); one is dated 1761 (Ickowicz 2008, no. 7.8 on pp. 60-1), while another undated version is also signed by Belleteste (ibid., no. 7.9 on pp. 62-3).

Descriptive line

House altar, ivory in glazed ebony frame, The Crucifixion, attributed to Jean-Antoine Belleteste, France (Dieppe), ca. 1760-1790

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

Theuerkauff, Christian, ed. Elfenbein, Sammlung Reiner Winkler, Vol II, 1994, pp. 107-110
Ickowicz, Pierre, La Vie du Christ (Les cahiers de l’ivoire du Château-Musée de Dieppe, no. 4), Dieppe, 2008
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 241

Labels and date

House altar with the Crucifixion
About 1750–1800

The Belleteste family was a dynasty of ivory carvers in Dieppe. The port of Dieppe in northwest France developed a tradition of ivory carving, using imported elephant tusks from West Africa. This house altar expresses both luxury and devotion. The many objects associated with Christ’s death are carved with virtuoso skill.

France (Dieppe)
Probably by Jean-Antoine Belleteste
Ivory; glazed ebony case
Given in memory of David Black by his sons
[09/12/2015]
1. THE CRUCIFIXION
FRENCH (Dieppe); second half of the 18th century
Ivory
Attributed to Jean-Antoine Belleteste
(b.1731; d.1811)

The Belletestes were one of the foremost families of ivory carvers in Dieppe, the centre of ivory carving during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Given in memory of David Black by his sons
A.46-1978 [1978-1980]
THE CRUCIFIXION
French (Dieppe); second half of the 18th century
Ivory
Attributed to Jean-Antoine Belleteste (b. 1731; d.1811)
Given in memory of David Black by his sons

The Belletestes were one of the foremost families of ivory carvers in Dieppe, the centre of ivory carving during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
[1993 - 2011]

Materials

Ivory; Ebony

Techniques

Carving; Glazing

Subjects depicted

Instruments of the Passion; Hearts (motifs); Ladders; Cocks (birds); Columns (architectural elements); Cherubim; Tools, Implements; Lamb; Coin silver; Lantern; Gauntlet; Handkerchief

Categories

Christianity; Sculpture; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.