Plaque with the Crucifixion and the Holy Women at the Tomb


On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14

The figures on this late Carolingian plaque are carved in a stately style and are defined by simple, linear draperies. Because of its size, format, and the nature of its subject, this plaque most likely served as the central decoration on the front cover of an evangelary. It depicts an allegorical crucifixion, a common theme in Metz ivories. Above the cross are bust-length personifications of the sun and the moon. From Christ's right side flows a stream of blood and water, which is caught by a personification of the Church. To the immediate right of Christ is the hooded figure of Synagogue, her body turning away. The entire group is flanked by the Virgin and St. John, executed in larger scale. Below them are Longinus with his lance, Stephaton with the sponge, and figures emerging from circular mausolea, a reference to the resurrection of the dead at the Last Judgment. The snake spiraled around the foot of the cross symbolizes Christ's triumph over death and evil. In the lower register, the three Maries appear at the tomb of Christ, a scene which is rarely combined with the Crucifixion in Carolingian art.

Plaque with the Crucifixion and the Holy Women at the Tomb, Elephant ivory, Carolingian

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