Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Double-Sided Ivory Liturgical Comb with Scenes of Henry II and Thomas Becket

ca. 1200–1210
Made in Canterbury, England (possibly)
Overall: 3 3/8 x 3 3/8 x 1/2 in. (8.6 x 8.6 x 1.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund, and Schimmel Foundation Inc., Mrs. Maxime L. Hermanos, Lila Acheson Wallace, Nathaniel Spear Jr., Mrs. Katherine S. Rorimer, William Kelly Simpson, Alastair B. Martin and Anonymous Gifts, 1988
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
Liturgical combs were used by priests before celebrating mass. This comb with two scenes of the life of Saint Thomas Becket-one showing Henry II naming him archbishop of Canterbury, the other of his martyrdom-is remarkable for the accuracy of the events portrayed. The classicizing naturalism of the figures and floral ornament are important features of the Gothic style of English art around 1200.
Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, comtesse de Béarn, Paris (until d. 1939); by descent to Octave Marie Hubert, marquis de Ganay(until d. 1974); by descent to Jean-Louis, marquis de Ganay(sold 1987); comtesse de Béhague sale, Sotheby's, Monaco(December 5, 1987, no. 166); [ Edward R. Lubin, Works of Art, New York (sold 1988)]
Los Angeles. J. Paul Getty Museum. "Canterbury Glass and the St. Albans Psalter: Treasures from Church and Cloister," September 30, 2013–February 2, 2014.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art in Context," December 8, 2014–March 8, 2015.

Antiquités et Objets d'Art: Collection de Martine, Comtesse de Béhague, Provenant de la Succession du Marquis de Ganay; Single Leaves from Illuminated Manuscripts. Monaco: Sotheby's, 1987. no. 166, p. 153.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1988-1989." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 47, no. 2 (Fall 1989). p. 16.

Clark, William W., and Charles T. Little. "Notable Recent Acquisitions, Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters, New York." Gesta 29. no. 2 (1990). pp. 240–41, fig. 6–7.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 115, p. 96.

Gameson, Richard. "The Early Imagery of Thomas Becket." In Pilgrimage: The English Experience from Becket to Bunyan, edited by Colin Morris, and Peter Roberts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. pp. 55–56, 63 n. 53, fig. 2.

Little, Charles T. "The Road to Glory: New Early Images of Thomas Becket's Life." In Reading Medieval Images: the Art Historian and the Object, edited by Elizabeth Sears, and Thelma K. Thomas. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. pp. 201–9, fig. 16.1–16.2.

Stein, Wendy A. How to Read Medieval Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. pp. 84–85, fig. 20.

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