The short supply of elephant tusks in northern Europe in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries led patrons and artisans to treat ivory almost as a precious stone. The pierced micro-carving of small sections of ivory in addition to bright layers of polychromy and rich gilding emulated the precious ronde bosse enamels that were the height of fashion at the turn of the fifteenth century (17.190.913).
This medallion depicts the Last Judgment. Christ, marked with the wounds of the Crucifixion, sits above a grassy hill on a rainbow throne, his feet resting on the golden globe. His left hand is raised in benediction and his right lowered in damnation. Angels carrying the symbols of his Passion hover over either shoulder. The Virgin Mary, on his left, and John the Evangelist, on his right, kneel in petition, begging for mercy upon the individuals emerging from graves below. These include a bishop, a tonsured monk, two young women, and an elderly man. Christ's steely gaze addresses the viewer directly, seemingly indicating that judgment will come to all. This medallion reminded its owner to prepare well for his or her own final judgment.
M. Charles Mannheim ; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A New Look at a Van Eyck Masterpiece," January 25–April 24, 2016.
Molinier, Émile. Collection Charles Mannheim: Objets d'Art. Paris: s.n., 1898. no. 17, p. 11, ill. unnumbered plate.
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. 31, pp. 43–44, pl. XVIII.
Breck, Joseph, and Meyric R. Rogers. The Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Handbook. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1925. p. 127.
Breck, Joseph, and Meyric R. Rogers. The Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Handbook. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1929. p. 127.
The Life of Christ: A Loan Exhibition of Works of Art Illustrating Episodes in the Life of Christ. Hartford, CT: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 1948. no. 217, p. 36.
Panofsky, Erwin. "A Parisian Goldsmith's Model of the Early Fifteenth Century?." In Essays in Honor of Georg Swarzenski, edited by Oswald Götz. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1951. pp. 72–73, 81, fig. 6.
Rasmussen, Jörg. "Untersuchungen zum Halleschen Heiltum des Kardinals Albrecht von Brandenburg (II)." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 28 (1977). p. 130 n. 409, (no. 19 on list).