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: Around exterior of upper half: LEVEMVS CORDA NOSTRA CVM MANIBVS AD D[o]MIN[e] C[o]E[los] (Let us raise our hearts together with our hands to the Lord in heaven [Lamentations 3:41]) Around exterior of lower half: ATTENDITE [et] VIDETE SI EST DOLOR SICVT DOLOR MEV[s]. (Attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow [Lamentations 1:12]). Around border of interior of upper half: Reges tharsis et insule munera offerent reges arabum et saba dona addvc[e]nt. (The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts [Psalm 71:10]). Around border of closed wings: vidit [igitvr] mvlier q[uo]d bonv[m] es[se]t lignv[m] ad vescendvm tvlit de frvctv[m] il[l]iv[s] et comedit deditqve v[ir]o svo (And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat. [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.
Boehm, Barbara Drake, and Alexandra Suda. "Devotion." In Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, edited by Lisa Ellis, and Alexandra Suda. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2016. pp. 87, 88, 96.
Dandridge, Pete, and Lisa Ellis. "Workshop Practices." In Small Wonders: Late-Gothic Boxwood Micro-Carvings from the Low Countries, edited by Frits Scholten. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2016. pp. 532–33, 542–43, 553, fig. 233–34, 241.
Dandridge, Pete, and Lisa Ellis. "Making." In Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, edited by Lisa Ellis, and Alexandra Suda. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2016. p. 34.
Scholten, Frits, ed. Small Wonders: Late-Gothic Boxwood Micro-Carvings from the Low Countries. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2016. no. 26, pp. 214–15, 614.