The carvers of boxwood miniatures regularly introduced interesting variations on standard subjects. Here it appears that one of the kings who bring offerings to the baby Jesus is running late. His African servant is still handing him a bag of gold coins (at right), as the first king already kneels before the infant, sitting on his mother's lap. Other servants work with a camel and horses; one at right, his back to us, prepares to tether a horse to a spike in the wall. This may be playful on the part of the artist, for the pin that secures the bead to the case is set not far above. In the Crucifixion below, a man (at right) with a wheelbarrow laden with hammers looks back at the scene. Is he regretting his role as one who made the Cross or drove its nails in place?
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.