Art/ Collection/ Art Object


12th century
Attributed to Italy, Sicily
Bone; carved and incised
H. 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm) W. 1 11/16 in. (4.3 cm) D. 1/4 in. (0.6 cm)
Ivories and Bone
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1967
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 457
This small pentagonal ivory plaque depicts a bird set against foliage. The craftsman has carved lines on the body to indicate feathers and patterning, and holes bored into the surface may originally have been set with stones. Depictions of animal forms within framing devices were common decorative motifs in objects produced around the Mediterranean in the medieval period, and can be found ornamenting wood, textiles, ivory, metalwork and ceramics.
This piece is one of a pair in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art with 67.204.2. The iconography of these plaques suggest they may be a derivative of depictions of the four Christian evangelists; here it could be a representation of John, whose symbol is an eagle with four wings.
[ Julius Carlebach Gallery, New York, until 1967; sold to MMA]
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