Overall: 5 11/16 x 3 7/16 x 1/4 in. (14.5 x 8.8 x 0.6 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
This carving showing the Virgin and the Infant Jesus reuses an ivory plaque that might have once served as a furniture mount. The plaque, originally carved in Egypt one hundred years earlier, depicts on its back a tree flanked by birds. The recarving of pagan ivories with Christian subjects, probably to adorn a Gospel book, occurred in a workshop associated with the emperor Charles the Bald (r. 840–77), the grandson of Charlemagne. The reuse of ancient ivory plaques, not unusual in the 800s, was due to the rarity of African elephant ivory in Europe.
J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)
Breck, Joseph. "Two Carolingian Ivories." American Journal of Archaeology 23, no. 4 (October–December 1919). pp. 394–400, fig. 2, 4.
"Two Carolingian Ivories from the Morgan Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal 6 (1972). pp. 17-57, fig. 2, 4.
Holcomb, Melanie. "The Function and Status of Carved Ivory in Carolingian Culture." PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1999. p. 125, fig. 61–62.