Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Plaque with Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter and the Law to Saint Paul

ca. 1150–1200
Made in Westphalia, Germany
Elephant ivory
Overall: 5 15/16 x 3 3/8 x 3/8 in. (15.1 x 8.5 x 0.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
The theme of Christ handing the keys of heaven to Saint Peter and the law to Saint Paul, which originated in fourth-century Rome, refers to the Gospel of Matthew (16:18): "I also tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church." At the same time, it highlights the importance of Saint Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. In this powerful interpretation, a domed structure, perhaps representing the heavenly Jerusalem, replaces the rock on which Christ is depicted more frequently. The dramatic expressions, the fluid clinging drapery, and the openwork carving are characteristic of German Romanesque ivory carving. The inscription, including the date 1200, is of later origin.
Inscription: Inscribed: lettering on scroll held by Christ reads ST.A TRE.V, a reference to Sancta Maria Trererorum; ivory is alleged to be from a cover of a 9th century evangeliary in the Church of Sancta maria ad Martyres, Trier. This inscription, while medieval, is probably not original to the date of the carving. The inscription on the base of the rotunda, "1200" is 19th century.
Count Christoph von Kesselstatt, Trier ; Private Collection, Rhineland, Germany ; Arthur Sachs, Cambridge, Mass ; [ Ernest Brummer, Zurich (sold 1979)] ; [his sale, Galerie Koller AG, Zurich (October 16-19, 1979, no. 77)]
Weerth, Ernst Aus'm. Kunstdenkmäler des christlichen Mittelalters in den Rheinlanden: Part I, Bildnerei. Vol. plates. Leipzig: Max Cohen & Sohn, 1868. pl. LVIII, fig. 6.

Weerth, Ernst Aus'm. Kunstdenkmäler des christlichen Mittelalters in den Rheinlanden: Part I, Bildnerei. Vol. 3. Leipzig: Max Cohen & Sohn, 1868. pp. 90–91.

Westwood, J. O., ed. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Fictile Ivories in the South Kensington Museum, with an Account of the Continental Collection of Classical and Medieval Ivories. London: South Kensington Museum, 1876. no. 292, pp. 130–31, 470.

Otte, Heinrich. Handbuch der kirchlichen Kunst-Archäologie des Deutschen Mittelalters, edited by Ernst Wernicke. Vol. 2. 5th ed. Leipzig: T. O. Weigel, 1884. p. 549.

Molinier, Émile. Les Ivoires. Histoire générale des arts appliqués à l'industrie, Vol. 1. Paris: Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts, 1896. p. 171.

Semper, Hans. "Ueber rheinische Elfenbein- und Beinarbeiten des XI. und XII. Jahrh. [2]." Zeitschrift für christliche Kunst 9, no. 10 (1896). cols. 292–93.

Goldschmidt, Adolph. Die Elfenbeinskulpturen aus der romanischen Zeit, XI.-XIII. Jahrhundert. Vol. 3. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1923. pp. 22–23, [early history and bibliography for this cat. no. apply to this object, not the 19th-century copy in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England].

Schnitzler, Hermann. "A Romanesque Ivory Carving in the Arthur Sachs Collection." Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum 2, no. 1 (November 1932). pp. 13–18, fig. 1.

Jansen, Franz. "Der Paderborner domdechant Graf Christoph von Kesselstatt und seine Handschriftensammlung." In Sankt Liborius: Sein Dom und sein Bistum, edited by Paul Simon. Paderborn: Bonifatius, 1936. p. 549.

The Ernest Brummer Collection. Vol. 1. Zurich: Galerie Koller, October 16–19, 1979. no. 77, pp. 90–93.

Kleinbauer, Walter Eugene. "Recent Major Acquisitions of Medieval Art by American Museums." Gesta 19, no. 1 (1980). p. 70, fig. 15.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions, 1979-1980 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1980). p. 22.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Tenth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1979, through June 30, 1980." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 110 (1980). p. 41.

Deshman, Robert. "The Imagery of the Living Ecclesia and the English Monastic Reform." In Sources of Anglo-Saxon Culture, edited by Paul E. Szarmach. Studies in Medieval Culture, Vol. 20. Medieval Institute Publications, 1986. p. 268, fig. 8.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 85, pp. 71–72.

Stein, Wendy A. How to Read Medieval Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. no. 17, pp. 16, 72–73.

Related Objects

Standing Apostle

Date: 1440–50 Medium: Alabaster with traces of paint Accession: 55.20 On view in:Gallery 16

Plaque with the Ascension

Date: ca. 1050 Medium: Ivory Accession: 1970.324.2 On view in:Gallery 14

Plaque with Saint John the Evangelist

Date: early 9th century Medium: Elephant ivory Accession: 1977.421 On view in:Gallery 14

The Cloisters Cross

Date: ca. 1150–60 Medium: Walrus ivory Accession: 63.12 On view in:Gallery 14

Roundel with Scenes of the Attack on the Castle of Love

Date: ca. 1320–40 Medium: Ivory Accession: 2003.131.1 On view in:Gallery 14