Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Plaque with the Crucifixion and the Holy Women at the Tomb

ca. 870
Made in northern France
Overall: 9 3/8 x 4 13/16 x 1/4 in. (23.8 x 12.3 x 0.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchased jointly by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Cloisters Collection) and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux de France (Palais du Louvre), 1974
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
The figures on this late Carolingian plaque are carved in a stately style and are defined by simple, linear draperies. Because of its size, format, and the nature of its subject, this plaque most likely served as the central decoration on the front cover of an evangelary. It depicts an allegorical crucifixion, a common theme in Metz ivories. Above the cross are bust-length personifications of the sun and the moon. From Christ's right side flows a stream of blood and water, which is caught by a personification of the Church. To the immediate right of Christ is the hooded figure of Synagogue, her body turning away. The entire group is flanked by the Virgin and St. John, executed in larger scale. Below them are Longinus with his lance, Stephaton with the sponge, and figures emerging from circular mausolea, a reference to the resurrection of the dead at the Last Judgment. The snake spiraled around the foot of the cross symbolizes Christ's triumph over death and evil. In the lower register, the three Maries appear at the tomb of Christ, a scene which is rarely combined with the Crucifixion in Carolingian art.
Inscription: on plaque above cross, in majuscules:

IH[E]S[US NAZARE/NVS REX IV[DEORVM] (Jesus Nazarenus Rex Iudoreorum, Trans. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
Nicholas E. Landau, Paris (sold 1974)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Patterns of Collecting," December 6, 1975–March 23, 1976.

"La Chronique des Arts: Principales acquisitions en 1974." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 6th ser., 86 (March 1975). no. 111, p. 30.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions (Metropolitan Museum of Art) no. 1965/1975 (1975). p. 156.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Fifth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1974, through June 30, 1975." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 105 (1975). pp. 66–67.

Raggio, Olga, ed. Patterns of Collecting: Selected Acquisitions, 1965-1975; Explanatory Texts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. p. 19.

Gaborit-Chopin, Danielle. Ivoires du Moyen Age. Fribourg: Office du Livre, 1978. no. 85, pp. 70, 71, 190.

Gaborit-Chopin, Danielle. Elfenbeinkunst im Mittelalter. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1978. no. 63, p. 191.

Kirby, Elizabeth Ann. "The Motif of the Serpent at the Foot of the Cross, 850-1050." PhD diss., Florida State University, 1981. p. 122, (acc. no. misidentified as 203546).

Melzak, Robert. "The Carolingian Ivory Carvings of the Later Metz Group." PhD diss., Columbia University, 1983. no. 20, pp. 95, 96, 181, 187, 190, 194, 199, fig. 20.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 34, pp. 9, 42–43.

Surmann, Ulrike. Studien zur ottonischen Elfenbeinplastik in Metz und Trier: Nordenfalks Sakramentar- und Evangeliargruppe. Bonn: Verlag M. Wehle, 1990. p. 241, fig. 116.

Büchsel, Martin. "Die Kreuzigung zwischen Antike und Christentum." Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, n.s., 89/90 (1993/94). p. 29, fig. 15.

Musto, Jeanne-Marie. "John Scottus Eriugena and the Upper Cover of the Lindau Gospels." Gesta 40, no. 1 (2001). pp. 4, 5, 7, fig. 5.

Gaborit-Chopin, Danielle. Ivoires Médiévaux, Ve-XVe siècle. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2003. no. 38, pp. 146-47, 155.

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