Ivories of the So-Called Grado Chair: Saint Peter Dictating the Gospel to Saint Mark
440-670 (radiocarbon date, 95% probability)
Made in Eastern Mediterranean or Egypt
5 5/16 x 3 15/16 x 5/16 in. (13.5 x 10 x 0.8 cm)
Victoria and Albert Museum, London (270:1-1867)
Not on view
The ivories from the So-called Grado Chair depict Saint Mark as founder and first bishop of the church of Alexandria. The mixture of Byzantine and Islamic elements in the decoration, especially in details of the cities, demonstrates the sophistication of ivory carvers in the eastern Mediterranean immediately before the body of the saint was transported to Venice. On this panel, Saint Peter (left), inspired by an angel, dictates his teachings to Saint Mark (right) in Rome. Saint Mark diligently records Saint Peter’s words in a pose traditional for a scribe. Carbon-14 dating of the fragment confirmed that the ivory dates within the timeframe of the exhibition.
Inscription: [in Greek, on the upper border:] city of Rome; [on Peter’s knee:] Greek letter, pi; [in Mark’s Gospel:] Greek Letter, alpha