Ivories of the So-Called Grado Chair: Wedding at Cana
630-820 (radiocarbon date, 95% probability)
Made in Eastern Mediterranean or Egypt
4 7/16 x 3 5/8 x 5/16 in. (11.3 x 9.2 x 0.8 cm)
Victoria and Albert Museum, London (A.1-1921)
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.
The staggered jars and animated muscular figures convey the artist’s skill in this depiction of water jugs being filled at the Wedding at Cana. Carbon-14 dating of the fragment confirmed that the ivory dates within the timeframe of the exhibition.