Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Plaque with Saint John the Evangelist

Date:
early 9th century
Geography:
Made in Aachen, Germany
Culture:
Carolingian
Medium:
Elephant ivory
Dimensions:
Overall: 7 3/16 x 3 11/16 x 1/4 in. (18.3 x 9.4 x 0.7 cm)
Classification:
Ivories
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1977
Accession Number:
1977.421
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
The Evangelist, accompanied by his symbol, the eagle, displays the opening text of his gospel. The deep layering of his tunic folds adds life and vigor to the Classical drapery forms. The roughly lettered inscription on the upper border, added at an early date, translates: "The word of John soars to heaven like an eagle." This plaque once was thought to be from a book cover, but it is now argued that this panel and three more, which represent the other authors of the Gospels, formed the wings of a triptych flanking an image of Christ in the central panel.
#49. Plaque with Saint John the Evangelist
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Inscription: [on pages of open codex, in Carolingian majuscules]
IN PRINCI / PIO ERAT / VERBVM (In the beginning was the Word [John 1:1])

[across top of plaque]
MOREVLANSAQVILEVERBUM PETITASTRA [JOANNES?] (more volans aquile verbo petit astra Joannes) (By means of the flying eagle, St. John through the world reaches the heavens [Sedulius])
C. Cain, London (sold 1977) ; [ Sotheby's, London British (December 15, 1977, no. 23)]
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