Plaque with Enthroned Virgin and Child


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304

This carving showing the Virgin and the Infant Jesus reuses an ivory plaque that might have once served as a furniture mount. The plaque, originally carved in Egypt one hundred years earlier, depicts on its back a tree flanked by birds. The recarving of pagan ivories with Christian subjects, probably to adorn a Gospel book, occurred in a workshop associated with the emperor Charles the Bald (r. 840–77), the grandson of Charlemagne. The reuse of ancient ivory plaques, not unusual in the 800s, was due to the rarity of African elephant ivory in Europe.

Plaque with Enthroned Virgin and Child, Ivory, Carolingian

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