Intended for the private contemplation and devotion of its owner, this palm-size ivory diptych illustrates both the reward of salvation and the consequence of damnation. The left wing represents the Coronation of the Virgin. At the bottom a retinue of the saved souls, including a mendicant friar, a king, a pope, and possibly a deacon, is ushered up a ladder to the celestial paradise by an angel who points the way. In the right wing Christ, accompanied by angels carrying instruments of the Passion, displays the wounds of his Crucifixion. As the dead are called from their graves, the kneeling Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist serve as their intercessors in the Last Judgment. The damned appear in the lower right, pushed headfirst into the mouth of Hell at the order of two grotesque devils. Adapted from representations in contemporary architectural sculpture, these subjects are set within a series of trefoil-cusped arcades and are elegantly carved in exceptionally high relief. The supple carving enlivens the symmetrical representation of the drama of redemption and condemnation.
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Title:Diptych with the Coronation of the Virgin and the Last Judgment
Geography:Made in probably Paris, France
Medium:Elephant ivory, with metal mounts
Dimensions:Overall (opened): 5 x 5 1/8 x 3/4 in. (12.7 x 13 x 1.9 cm)
Credit Line:The Cloisters Collection, 1970
Accession Number:1970.324.7a, b
Ernst and Marthe Kofler-Truniger, Lucerne (sold 1970)
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