The Coronation of the Virgin thumbnail 1
The Coronation of the Virgin thumbnail 2
+5
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

The Coronation of the Virgin

Triptych
ca. 1360 - 1370 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This triptych, a small portable altarpiece with foldable wings, shows at its centre the Coronation of the Virgin beneath a choir of musician angels. This central image is accompanied by images of saints and an Annunciation scene on the triptych's wings.

The small object is carved from ivory, and was partially painted and gilded. It was made in a workshop in Venice in ca. 1360-1370, at a time when small and precious ivory carvings were very popular among wealthy members of society. The object was probably used in the context of private devotion and prayer, and its imagery with the Virgin Mary at the centre reflects the important role she played in the religious life of the period.





object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Elephant ivory, carved, painted and gilded
Brief Description
Triptych, the Coronation of the Virgin, carved, painted and gilded ivory, Venice, ca. 1360-1370
Physical Description
The central panel of this triptych shows the Coronation of the Virgin among a choir of twenty musician angels under a trefoil ogee arch. On the left wing are, from the bottom, the Archangel Michael, St John the Baptist and the Angel of the Annunciation, and on the right wing, St George, St John the Evangelist and the Virgin of the Annunciation. On the outside of the wings, the outlines of extensive cross-hatching indicate that two standing figures of angels with upstretched wings, probably made of ivory, were orginally glued to the surface. The reverses of both wings have gilded borders, and that on the left has a thin overlapping strip of gilded ivory pegged with eight bone pins to its outer edge to seal the triptych when shut. At the centre there was also a metal clasp and ring, of which only the sheared-off pins remain. The back of the central panel is plain, with no traces of paint or decoration. The present hinges, two on each side, are replacements for three original hinges, the slots for which are still visible. Small holes in the tops of the buttresses to each side of the central gable indicate that separately-made elements, perhaps small towers or standing prophets, were once attached. Holes in the second crockets on each side of the gable and crowning finial likewise suggest the presence of further additions, such as a bust-length figure of God the Father. Cross-hatching and dowel holes on the underside of the central panel served to fix the triptych to a separately-made pedestal, now lost. The backgrounds to the triptych are painted in red and green (not original), and details of the figures are gilded.
Dimensions
  • Height: 26.8cm
  • Total excluding ivory strip on left wing width: 16cm
  • Depth: 3.5cm
  • Weight: 0.6kg
  • At base of central panel width: 8.2cm
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries 2006
Object history
In the possession of John Webb, London, by 1862; purchased from John Webb in 1866, for £350.



The form of the foliate ogee arch, supported on thin spiral colonettes, the luxuriant crockets, the rich surface decoration, the iconographic type and the figure style all point towards this triptych having been made in Venice. The design of the arch closely follows that on the Porta dei Fiori on the north side of San Marco in Venice, and the iconography reflects the type of the Coronation of the Virgin with musician angels seen most commonly in Venetian paintings of the third quarter of the fourteenth century by Paolo Veneziano and others. The general form of the triptych, with crocketed gable, standing figures at the sides and richly patterned borders, is similar to the late fourteenth-century Holy Sacraments tabernacle in San Marco, the finials on both sides of which are topped by half-length figures of God the Father. On a smaller scale, the closest comparisons for the figure style are with the painted ivory reliefs on a group of croziers also associated with Venice which appear to dated from the third quarter of the fouteenth century (see, for example, a crozier in the V&A, mus. no. A.547-1910), and with a diptych in the V&A (mus. no. A.566-1910)
Historical context
In the late medieval period, ivory triptychs such as this were very popular with an affluent travelling clientele wh often took these small portable altarpieces with them as aids to prayer, and for use in their devotional practice more widely. The method of fabrication of the triptychs sometimes reveals that they were intended to be carried in cases, usually made of boilded leather.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This triptych, a small portable altarpiece with foldable wings, shows at its centre the Coronation of the Virgin beneath a choir of musician angels. This central image is accompanied by images of saints and an Annunciation scene on the triptych's wings.



The small object is carved from ivory, and was partially painted and gilded. It was made in a workshop in Venice in ca. 1360-1370, at a time when small and precious ivory carvings were very popular among wealthy members of society. The object was probably used in the context of private devotion and prayer, and its imagery with the Virgin Mary at the centre reflects the important role she played in the religious life of the period.







Bibliographic References
  • Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Works of Art of the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and More Recent Periods, on Loan at the South Kensington Museum, June 1862. London: George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1862, cat. no. 89
  • Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, vol. 1, p. 18
  • Maskell, William. A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Mediaeval in the South Kensington Museum. London: Published for the Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education by Chapman & Hall, 1872, pp. 61-62
  • Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, p. 61
  • Natanson, Józef. Gothic Ivories of the 13th and 14th centuries. London: A. Tiranti, 1951, p. 39, pl. 62
  • Giusti, Paola and Leone de Castris, Pierluigi (eds). Medioevo e produzione artistica di serie: smalti di Limoges e avori gotici in Campania. Exhibition Catalogue, Naples, Museo Duca di Martina. Florence: Centro Di, 1981, pp. 35-36
  • Randall, Richard H. Jr. Masterpieces of Ivory from the Walters Art Gallery. New York: Hudson Hills Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1985, p. 234
  • Williamson, Paul. 'Avori italiani e avori francesi'. In: Pace, Valentino and Bagnoli, Martina (ed.), Il Gotico Europeo in Italia. Naples: Electa, 1994, pp. 293-98, here p. 293, fig. 3
  • Barnet, Peter (ed.). Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age. Exhibition Catalogue, Detroit, Institute of Arts and Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery. Detroit and Princeton: Detroit Institute of Arts and Princeton University Press, 1997, cat. no. 49 (P. Williamson)
  • Williamson, Paul. 'Gothic Ivories in Detroit and Baltimore', Apollo, CXLV/421, March 1997, pp. 48-50, here p. 49, fig. 4
  • Tomasi, Michele. 'Contributo allo studio della scultura eburnea trecentesca in Italia: Venezia', Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Classe di Lettere e Filosofia, series 4, 4, 1999, pp. 221-46, here pp. 229-30, fig. 252
  • Tomasi, Michele. 'Baldassare Ubriachi, le maître, le public', Revue de l'Art, 134, 2001, pp. 51-60, here pp. 53-54, fig. 4
  • Tomasi, Michele. 'Angeli per gli Embriachi'. In Parenti, Daniela and Tartuferi, Angelo (eds). Intorno a Lorenzo Monaco: Nuovi studi sulla pittura tardogotica. Livorno: Sillabe, 2007, pp. 168-75, here p. 173
  • Lowden, John and Cherry, John. Medieval Ivories and Works of Art: The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. London: Paul Holberton Press, 2008, p. 106
  • Panzanelli, Roberta (ed.). The Colour of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present. Exhibition Catalogue, Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008, cat. no. 23 (P. Grosse)
  • Davies, Glyn and Kennedy, Kirstin (eds). Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2009, p. 87, pl. 56
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn. Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550. London: V&A Publishing, 2014, vol. 1, pp. 200-203, cat. no. 64
  • Palluchini, Chiara. 'Nuove considerazioni sulla scultura eburnea veneziana di età gotica alla luce di un pezzo del Museo della Biblioteca Oliveriana di Pesaro', Studia oliveriana, s. 4, 1, 2015, pp. 121-50, here pp. 125-27
Collection
Accession Number
143-1866

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJanuary 14, 2003
Record URL