Double Comb: Scenes from the Story of Joseph, mid–16th century
Ivory; 4 9/16 x 5 3/4 in. (11.6 x 14.6 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.93.13)
Combs with ivory teeth, ornamented with secular scenes, were produced in Flanders, northern France, and Italy during the Middle Ages. The carving style of this unusual
later example is more refined and its iconography is more elaborate. The detailed rendering of architecture seems to relate to the plaques on the gun in this case. Joseph, who stored up grain during "seven fat years" to provide for "seven lean years," was an exemplar of thrift and chastity and thus was often depicted on Netherlandish wedding items; perhaps this comb was made for a bride.