Ivories of the So-Called Grado Chair: Nativity of Christ
Made in Eastern Mediterranean or Egypt
3 11/16 x 7 1/2 in. (9.3 x 19.1 cm)
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZ.1951.30)
Not on view
The original use and arrangement of these fourteen ivories of the So-called Grado Chair with scenes from the life of Christ, depictions of saints, and of Saint Mark as first bishop of Alexandria remain uncertain. They may have been part of a liturgical throne given by Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–41) to Grado, Italy, after his successful re-conquest of Egypt.
On this plaque, the Nativity is set before the walls of an elaborate city, possibly Bethlehem. The Christ child’s manger resembles an altar.