Half of a Prayer Bead with the Lamentation, Boxwood, silver, Netherlandish

Half of a Prayer Bead with the Lamentation

early 16th century
Boxwood, silver
Diam. 1 3/16 × 1/4 in. (3 × 0.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.458a, b
Not on view
The paired medallions of this relatively modest carving not only illustrate the use of boxwood prayer beads but also seem to echo the recommendation of the fifteenth-century Dominican theologian Alanus de Rupe for praying the Rosary. He advised that the first fifty prayers be said before an image of the Virgin and Child and the second fifty before an image of Jesus crucified. Here, the robe of the woman kneeling in prayer, a string of beads in hand, touches that of Mary, and Jesus looks straight at her. Does she kneel before a statue, an image in her own head, or a miraculous apparition? In the companion image, Mary, Saint John, and Mary Magdalene mourn the death of Jesus. Devotion has caused the collapse of time and space.
Inscription: d[omi]ne ie[s]u xr[ist]eaccipe spi[rit]u[m] meu[m]
(Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit [Acts 7:58])
M. Charles Mannheim, Paris; J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (until 1917)
Molinier, Émile. Collection Charles Mannheim: Objets d'Art. Paris: s.n., 1898. no. 26, pp. 13–14.

Williamson, George Charles. Catalogue of the Collections of Jewels and Precious Works of Art: The Property of J. Pierpont Morgan. Deluxe ed. London: Chiswick Press, 1910. no. 45, pp. 60, 68–69, pl. XXVII, color pl. 20.

Dingelstedt, Kurt. "Betnuß." Reallexikon zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte 2 (1948). p. 373.

Romanelli, Susan J. "South Netherlandish Boxwood Devotional Sculpture 1475–1530." PhD diss., Columbia University, 1992. no. 35, pp. 295–96, fig. 61.

Scholten, Frits, ed. Small Wonders: Late-Gothic Boxwood Micro-Carvings from the Low Countries. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2016. no. 8, pp. 97, 607.

Boehm, Barbara Drake, and Alexandra Suda. "Handpicked: Collecting Boxwood Carvings from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries." In Small Wonders: Late-Gothic Boxwood Micro-Carvings from the Low Countries, edited by Frits Scholten. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2016. pp. 350–51, fig. 141.