The Ascension of Christ, that moment forty days after his resurrection when he ascended bodily into heaven, was a favored theme among carvers of ivory plaques in the early Middle Ages. The subject seemed to lend itself to an array of visual interpretations: though artists repeatedly turned to the subject, they never settled on rote depictions. Christ might leap to heaven with enthusiasm, step in a more purposeful way, or even fly. The amazed onlookers vary in number and display a variety of reactions.
In this instance, Christ seems to float upward, looking and pointing toward the hand of God who reaches out, unusually, with a wreath of victory. Christ is flanked by two astounded apostles, while lively depictions of the personifications of Earth and Ocean appear below him, allusions to the physical world he leaves behind.
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Title:Plaque with the Ascension
Geography:Made in Rhineland, Germany
Dimensions:Overall: 4 1/16 x 3 9/16 x 1/4in. (10.3 x 9.1 x 0.7cm)
Credit Line:The Cloisters Collection, 1970
Ernst and Marthe Kofler-Truniger, Lucerne (sold 1970)
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Sammlung E. und M. Kofler-Truniger, Luzern, Zürich," June 7–August 2, 1964.
Goldschmidt, Adolph. Die Elfenbeinskulpturen aus der Zeit der karolingischen und sächisischen Kaiser, VIII.-XI. Jahrhundert. Vol. 2. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1918. no. 37, p. 25, pl. XII.
Bovini, Giuseppe, and Luisa Ottolenghi, ed. Catalogo della mostra degli avori dell'alto Medioevo: Mostra nei chiostri francescani di Ravenna. 2nd ed. Ravenna: Chiostri Francescani di Ravenna, 1956. p. 110, fig. 165, no. 108.
Schnitzler, Hermann, ed. Große Kunst des Mittelalters aus Privatbesitz. Cologne: Museum Schnütgen, 1960. no. 11, p. 15, pl. 7.
Bloch, Peter. "Sammlung E. und M. Kofler-Truniger, Luzern: Ausstellung im Kunsthaus Zürich vom 7. Juni bis 1. September." Kunstchronik 17 (October 1964). pp. 264, 281, fig. 7a.
Kauffmann, C. M. "The Kofler Collection: An important exhibition in Zürich." The Connoisseur 156, no. 627 (May 1964). pp. 19–20, fig. 6.
Sammlung E. und M. Kofler-Truniger, Luzern: Ausstellung. Zurich: Kunsthaus Zürich, 1964. no. 667, p. 69, pl. 56.
Lasko, Peter. "A Notable Private Collection." Apollo 79, no. 28 (June 1964). fig. 5, ill. p. 466.
Schnitzler, Hermann, Peter Bloch, and W. F. Volbach. Sammlung E. und M. Kofler-Truniger, Luzern: Skulpturen – Elfenbein, Perlmutter, Stein, Holz; europäisches Mittelalter. Vol. 1. Lucerne: Verlag Räber & Cie, 1964. no. 4, p. 11.
Bloch, Peter, Hermann Schnitzler, Charles Ratton, and W. F. Volbach. "Mittelalterliche Kunst der Sammlung Kofler-Truniger, Luzern." Aachener Kunstblätter 31 (1965). pp. 11–12.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred First Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1970 through June 30, 1971." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 101 (1971). p. 21.
Raggio, Olga, ed. Patterns of Collecting: Selected Acquisitions, 1965-1975; Explanatory Texts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. p. 17.
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