Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Book Cover with Byzantine Icon of the Crucifixion

1000 (ivory); before 1085 (setting)
Made in Constantinople (Ivory); Made in Jaca, Spain (Setting)
Byzantine (ivory); Spanish (setting)
Silver-gilt with pseudo-filigree, glass, crystal, and sapphire cabochons, ivory on wood support
Overall: 10 3/8 x 8 5/8 x 1 in. (26.4 x 21.9 x 2.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
Byzantine ivories were highly prized in western Europe, where they survived in church treasuries or were incorporated into deluxe book bindings. The ivory from the panel on the left originally formed the center of a Byzantine three-paneled icon. It may have been one of the many gifts to the Nunnery of Santa Cruz de la Serós, which was founded by Queen Felicia (d. 1085), wife of Sancho V Ramírez (r. 1076–94), king of Aragon and Navarre. The sumptuous cover also contains a sapphire seal, located to the right of Saint John, inscribed in Arabic with four of the ninety-nine “Beautiful Names” of God.
From the Benedictine convent of Santa Cruz de la Serós, Jaca; Charles Stein(?), Paris; Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael, 12th Baronet of Castle Craig(sold 1902); Carmichael sale, Christie's, Manson & Woods, London(May 12–13, 1902, no. 36); George Brauer, Paris (until 1906); J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (from 1906)
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