Opaque and translucent enamel on gold; 3 1/2 x 3 in. (8.9 x 7.6 cm)
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982 (1982.60.398)
The entombment of Christ after the Crucifixion is variously described in the Four Gospels. Each of the accounts notes the presence of a wealthy man at the scene, Joseph of Arimathea; with him, according to Matthew and Mark, were Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James. However, only the Gospel of Saint John refers to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, as being in attendance. None of the Gospels describes the crowd of mourners gathered at the bier, as seen here, but the depiction of such a group is typical in French art of the Gothic period.
About 1400, the technique of enameling en ronde-bosse, which was used for this plaque, became a hallmark of goldsmiths' work for the French royal court. Jewel-like in its effect, it combines luminous coloras well as, here, the mottled gray of the sarcophagus and the floral patterning on the Virgin's gownwith finely detailed goldwork, as seen in the precisely detailed faces and the scroll pattern stippled on the gold ground.