Ivories of the So-Called Grado Chair: Nativity of Christ

7th–8th century
Made in Eastern Mediterranean or Egypt
3 11/16 x 7 1/2 in. (9.3 x 19.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZ.1951.30)
Not on view
The original use and arrangement of these fourteen ivories of the So-called Grado Chair with scenes from the life of Christ, depictions of saints, and of Saint Mark as first bishop of Alexandria remain uncertain. They may have been part of a liturgical throne given by Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–41) to Grado, Italy, after his successful re-conquest of Egypt.
On this plaque, the Nativity is set before the walls of an elaborate city, possibly Bethlehem. The Christ child’s manger resembles an altar.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.