Although the number of Knights and Bishops on the chessboard is the same, more medieval chess pieces in the form of Knights survive. This example, perfectly poised on his fine horse, battles a dragon, a symbol of evil. But for the lack of a halo and a princess in need of rescue standing nearby, he might be mistaken for Saint George, who, according to legend, slayed a dragon.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:Knight Chess Piece
Geography:Made in probably London, England
Dimensions:Overall: 3 1/16 x 2 9/16 x 1 3/8 in. (7.8 x 6.5 x 3.5 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Georges Hoentschel (French)(until 1911; sold to Morgan); J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (1911–1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
Brooklyn Museum. "Chess: East and West, Past and Present," April–October 1968.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chess: East and West, Past and Present," October 1968–January 1969.
National Gallery of Canada. "Art and the Courts: France and England from 1259 to 1328," April 28–July 2, 1972.
Royal Academy of Arts. "Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200-1400," November 6, 1987–March 6, 1988.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age," March 9–May 11, 1997.
Walters Art Museum. "Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age," June 22–August 31, 1997.
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. "The Game of Kings: Medieval Ivory Chessmen from the Isle of Lewis," November 15, 2011–April 22, 2012.
Musée National du Moyen Âge - Thermes et Hôtel de Cluny. "Jeux de la Babylone antique á l'Occident Médiéval," November 28, 2012–March 18, 2013.
New York. Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. "Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 3, 2013–August 11, 2013.
Musée du Louvre Abu Dhabi. "Furusiyya: The art of chivalry. East-West 12th-15th centuries," February 19, 2020–October 18, 2020.
Pératé, André. Collections Georges Hoentschel: Ivoires, orfèvrerie religieuse, pierres. Vol. 2. Paris: Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts, 1911. no. 18, fig. XV.
Breck, Joseph, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Brief Guide to the Art of the Renaissance, Medieval and Earlier Periods. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1918. p. 12.
Koechlin, Raymond. Les Ivoires Gothiques Français: Volume I, Text. Paris: Editions Auguste Picard, 1924. no. 1257, p. 470.
Koechlin, Raymond. Les Ivoires Gothiques Français: Volume II, Catalogue. Paris: Editions Auguste Picard, 1924. no. 1257, p. 439.
Goldschmidt, Adolph. Die Elfenbeinskulpturen aus der romanischen Zeit, XI.-XIII. Jahrhundert. Vol. 4. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1926. no. 267, pp. 8, 52, pl. LXXII.
Longhurst, Margaret H. English Ivories. London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926. no. XLVIII, pp. 38–40, 100, pl. 41.
Kohlhaussen, Heinrich. "Gotisches Kunstgewerbe." In Geschichte des Kunstgewerbes aller Zeiten und Völker, edited by Helmuth Theodor Bossert. Vol. 5. Berlin: E. Wasmuth, 1932. p. 478.
McNab Dennis, Jessie, and Charles K. Wilkinson. Chess: East and West, Past and Present. A Selection from the Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1968. no. 7.
Nickel, Helmut. "Sir Gawayne and the Three White Knights." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 28, no. 4 (December 1969). pp. 174–75, fig. 1.
Verdier, Philippe, Peter Brieger, and Marie Farquhar Montpetit, ed. Art and the Courts: France and England from 1259-1328. Vol. 2. Ottowa: National Gallery of Canada, 1972. no. 68b, pp. 118–19, pl. 92.
Verdier, Philippe, Peter Brieger, and Marie Farquhar Montpetit, ed. Art and the Courts: France and England from 1259-1328. Vol. 1. Ottowa: National Gallery of Canada, 1972. no. 68b, pp. 151–52.
Binski, Paul, and Jonathan J. G. Alexander, ed. Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200-1400. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1987. no. 147, p. 148.
Barnet, Peter, ed. Images In Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 1997. no. 51, pp. 218–19.
Sears, Elizabeth. "Ivory and Ivory Workers in Medieval Paris." In Images In Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, edited by Peter Barnet. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 1997. no. 51, p. 24.
Bardiès-Fronty, Isabelle, and Anne-Elizabeth Dunn-Vaturi, ed. Art du Jeu, Jeu dans l'Art: De Babylone à l’Occident Médiéval. Paris: Musée National du Moyen Âge - Thermes et Hôtel de Cluny, 2012. no. 120, p.121.
Krohn, Deborah L., Ulrich Leben, and Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide, ed. Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, 2013. no. 130, p. 166.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.
The Museum's collection of medieval and Byzantine art is among the most comprehensive in the world, encompassing the art of the Mediterranean and Europe from the fall of Rome to the beginning of the Renaissance.