Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Rosary Bead

South Netherlandish
Open: 4 7/16 × 3 3/16 × 1 1/16 in. (11.2 × 8.1 × 2.7 cm) Closed: 2 5/16 × 2 3/16 × 2 3/16 in. (5.8 × 5.5 × 5.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
Carved with astonishingly minute detail, this rosary bead probably was created with the help of a magnifying lens. When opened, it forms a triptych. On the left is the Journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity; in the center is the Journey of the Magi, complete with horses and camels, followed by their Adoration of the baby Jesus and offering of gifts; and on the right is the Presentation of the Child in the Temple at Jerusalem. The Latin inscription is the text of Psalm 71:10, which refers to kings of Arabia and Saba and is associated by Christians with the Magi.

Adam and Eve appear on the outside of the wings. The Crucifixion of Jesus occupies the lower half of the bead.
Inscription: Inscribed: on exterior - LEVEMVS CORDA NOSTRA CVM MANIBVS AD DNM IN CE (coelos) and ATTENDITE (ET) VIDETE SI EST DOLOR SICVT DOLOR MEV (Vulgate, Lamentations 3:41 and 1:12). on interior upper half - in Gothic letters: REGES THARSIS ET INSILE (insulae) MVNERA OFFERENT. REGES ARABVM ET SABA DONA ADDVCENT (Psalm 71, Vulgate, 72 A.V., 10). on interior leaves - VIDIT (igitvr) MVLIER QVOD BONVM ESSET LIGNVM AD VESCENDVM (et pvlcrvm ocvlis aspecvqve delectabile) ET TVLIT DE FRVCTILLIVS ET COMEDIT DEDITQVE VIRO SVO (Vulgate, Genesis, 3:6).
Johannes Paul, Hamburg; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
Williamson, George Charles. Catalogue of the Collections of Jewels and Precious Works of Art: The Property of J. Pierpont Morgan. Deluxe ed. London: Chiswick Press, 1910. no. 42, pp. 65–66, pl. XXV, color pl. 18.

Dingelstedt, Kurt. "Betnuß." Reallexikon zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte 2 (1948). p. 374.

McConnell, Sophie, and Alvin Grossman. Metropolitan Jewelry. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991. p. 69.

Romanelli, Susan J. "South Netherlandish Boxwood Devotional Sculpture 1475–1530." PhD diss., Columbia University, 1992. no. 21, pp. 266–68, 61, 65,148, fig. 35–36.

Didi-Huberman, Georges. L'image ouverte: Motifs de l'incarnation dans les arts visuels. Paris: Gallimard, 2007. p. 44, pl. III.

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