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Virgin and Child

  • Object:

    Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    Winchester (or Canterbury, made)

  • Date:

    1000-1020 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved walrus ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Alphonse Kann

  • Museum number:

    A.5-1935

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 11

The Virgin is shown seated on a rainbow like arc within a mandorla. In her right hand she holds a sceptre in the form of a branch, in her left a book, and she supports the Christ Child on her lap. The zigzagging line of the Virgin's robe is typical of artworks produced in England, and particularly at Winchester.
The Virgin and Child relief is clearly extremely closely related in style, shape and size to V&A Inv. no A.32-1928. Both pieces were in all likelyhood produced in the same workshop. This plaque appears to have been made for a grander, possibly jewelled setting, and was embellished with gold rather than paint. It is certainly accidental that the two plaques have been damaged in identical fashion on the left side, indicative of being roughly torn off from their original setting, and both appeared on the art market within a decade of one another in around 1920, probably from a French source. They perhaps came from two related manuscripts kept in the same continental monastic library.

Physical description

Virgin and Child, relief in walrus ivory. The Virgin is seated on a rainbow-like arc within a mandorla, supporting the Child on her left knee and her feet resting on a footstoll. The grooved border is divided into four sections by three (originally four) small foliate sprays of typical 'Winchester Style' ornament. She holds a sceptre in the form of a branch in her right hand and a diptych book between the Child and her left arm. He too holds a diptych book. The border and background are pierced with pin-holes and a portion of the left side is broken. The grooved border would have contained a gold band and the background would almost certainly have been gold plated.

Place of Origin

Winchester (or Canterbury, made)

Date

1000-1020 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved walrus ivory

Dimensions

Height: 9.9 cm, Width: 6.5 cm greatest, Depth: 2.4 cm, Weight: 0.8 kg

Object history note

Gift of Mr. Alphonse Kann, who acquired it from Demotte, Paris.

Historical significance: The Virgin and Child relief is clearly extremely closely related in style, shape and size to V&A Inv. no A.32-1928. Both pieces were in all likelyhood produced in the same workshop. This plaque appears to have been made for a grander, possibly jewelled setting, and was embellished with gold rather than paint. It is certainly accidental that the two plaques have been damaged in identical fashion on the left side, indicative of being roughly torn off from their original setting, and both appeared on the art market within a decade of one another in around 1920, probably from a French source. They perhaps came from two related manuscripts kept in the same continental monastic library.

Descriptive line

Plaque, relief in walrus ivory, Virgin and Child within a mandorla, Anglo-Saxon (Winchester or Canterbury), ca. 1000-20

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

Talbot-Rice, D. English Art 871-1100 Oxford. 1952. p.168, pl. 39a.
Swalzenslai, H. Monuments of Romanesque Art. London. 1959. no. 139, pl. 62.
Randall, R.H Jnr. 'An Eleventh Century Ivory Pastoral Cross'. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institute. XXV. 1962. p.163. pl. 31 b.
Longhurst, Margaret. English Ivories. 1926. pp. 17 & 34, pl. XVIII.
Williamson, Paul. The Medieval Treasury: The Art of the Middle Ages in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London. Victoria and Albert Museum. 1986. pp.98-99.
Williamson, Paul and Webster, L. 'The coloured decoration of Anglo-Saxon Ivory Carvings' in Cather, S, Park, D and Williamson, Paul eds. Early Medieval Wall Painting and Painted Sculpture in England. Oxford. BAR series. 1990. pp.178, 180, 182. pl. 6.
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 244, 5, cat.no. 62

Subjects depicted

Halo; Mandorlas; Rainbows; Books; Sceptres

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity; Plaques & Plaquettes

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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