Exhibitions/ Art Object

Plate with the Presentation of David to Saul

Date:
629–630
Geography:
Made in Constantinople
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Silver
Dimensions:
Overall: 10 11/16 x 1 9/16 in., 49.3oz. (27.2 x 4 cm, 1397g) foot: 4 5/8 x 9/16 in. (11.8 x 1.4 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.397
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
In 628–29 the Byzantine emperor Herakleios (r. 610–41) successfully ended a long, costly war with Persia and regained Jerusalem, Egypt, and other Byzantine territory. Silver stamps dating to 613–29/30 on the reverse of these masterpieces place their manufacture in Herakleios’s reign. The biblical figures on the plates wear the costume of the early Byzantine court, suggesting to the viewer that, like Saul and David, the Byzantine emperor was a ruler chosen by God. Elaborate dishes used for display at banquets were common in the late Roman and early Byzantine world; generally decorated with classical themes, these objects conveyed wealth, social status, and learning. This set of silver plates may be the earliest surviving example of the use of biblical scenes for such displays. Their intended arrangement may have closely followed the biblical order of the events, and their display may have conformed to the shape of a Christogram, or monogram for the name of Christ.

David, brought before Saul, says he is willing to battle Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32–34). Saul is dressed as member of the Byzantine court. His chlamys, or cloak, worn over a long-sleeved tunic, is fastened with a cruciform fibula, or brooch, the sign of a high-ranking state official. The chlamys is adorned with a tablion, a rectangular embroidered panel indicating the wearer’s rank. The man at the far left wears the Persian costume fashionable at court during the early Byzantine period: short tunic with long sleeves, girdle, long trousers, and boots. Here again the arcade suggests a palatial setting.
Cyprus Treasure, found at Karavas, Cyprus, 1902; [ C. & E. Canessa, Paris (sold 1906)]; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (1913–1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
Breck, Joseph, and Meyric R. Rogers. The Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Handbook. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1925. pp. 36-39, fig. 17.

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Hoving, Thomas. "The Sources of the Ivories of the Ada School." PhD diss., Princeton University, 1960. pp. 148a, 157, fig. 72, 76.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 26, no. 5 (January 1968). no. 11, p. 201.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: Dutton Publishing, 1970. no. 113, p. 149.

Weitzmann, Kurt. "Prolegomena to a Study of the Cyprus Plates." Metropolitan Museum Journal 3 (1970). pp. 97-111, fig. 10.

Beeson, Nora B., ed. Guide to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. no. 15, p. 212.

Wander, Steven H. "The Cyprus Plates: The Story of David and Goliath." Metropolitan Museum Journal 8 (1973). pp. 89-104, fig. 1, 10.

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Norris, Michael. A Masterwork of Byzantine Art : The David Plates ; The Story of David and Goliath. Closer look. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001. p. 10.

Tsamakda, Vasil. "König David als Typos des Byzantinischen Kaiser." In Byzanz – das Römerreich im Mittelalter: Volume 1, Welt der Ideen, Welt der Dinge, edited by Falko Daim, and Jörg Drauschke. Mainz: Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, 2010. pp. 30-31, fig. 5.

Durand, Jannic, and Dorota Giovannoni, ed. Chypre: entre Byzance et l'Occident, IVe–XVIe siècle. Paris: Musée du Louvre Éditions, 2012. no. 19b, pp. 67, 68.

Evans, Helen C., and Brandie Ratliff, ed. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, 7th–9th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012.

Wander, Steven H. The Joshua Roll. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2012. pp. 134–36, 140, fig. 29.

Humphrey, Lyle. "Collecting Christianity on the Nile: J. Pierpont Morgan and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Age of Transition: Byzantine Culture in the Islamic World, edited by Helen C. Evans. New York: Yale University Press, 2015. p. 3, fig. 2.



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