Calvary, late 17th–early 18th century
German or Netherlandish(?)
Ivory, ebony; (a) H. (with cross) 21 1/8 in. (53.7 cm), H. (figure) 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); (b) H. (with cross) 20 1/8 in. (51.1 cm), H. (figure) 8 in. (20.3 cm); (c) H. (with cross) 20 1/8 in. (51.1 cm), H. (figure) 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm); (d) H. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm); (e) H. 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm); (f) H. 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1950 (50.182a–g)
Calvary was the hill outside Jerusalem where Christ was crucified. Here, the traditional group of the Virgin, the Magdalene, and Saint John includes the Good and Bad Thieves. The suffering expressed in the contorted poses would have aided in the viewer's efforts at private devotion. In an unusual iconographic touch, the Virgin kneels at the foot of the cross, a place usually reserved for the Magdalene, who is shown in a posture more typical of the Mourning Virgin. The bearded Saint John is also uncommon, as is the oriental (Turkish?) hairstyle of the thief at the left. The distinctive carving style produced delicate but highly expressive features on comparatively small heads set against broad, flat classical draperies and heavy bodies with unusually stout wrists and ankles.