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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Plaque with the Virgin Mary as a Personification of the Church

ca. 800–825
Made in Aachen, Germany
Overall: 8 11/16 x 5 11/16 x 5/16 in. (22 x 14.5 x 0.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
This splendid carving is one of the largest single ivory panels to survive from Carolingian Europe. The spindles in Mary’s left hand often appear in depictions of the Annunciation, as she receives the news that she is to be the mother of Jesus. The military appearance of her dress and the cross-topped scepter she holds suggest that she could also be understood here to represent the triumph of the Church. The curious juxtaposition of the figure of Mary as the recipient of the Annunciation and as the symbol of the Church is unique to this ivory plaque. Recent cleaning of the ivory has revealed the exceptional beauty of the rhythmic drapery.
#2955. Plaque with the Virgin Mary as a Personifixation of the Church
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[ Frédéric Spitzer (d. 1890), Paris (sold 1893)]; Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cologne(sold 1906); J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (1906–1917)
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