Leaf of a Diptych: Crucifixion
16.7 x 9.9 cm
Purchase, gift of Mrs. J. W. McConnell, inv. 1937.Dv.3
Ivory religious diptychs are similar to the consular diptychs executed when those Roman officials took office. A highly valuable material and symbol of purity, ivory was considered particularly suitable for religious sculpture. Diptychs were thus transformed into devotional objects depicting scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. What are referred to as “Gothic” ivory works developed in northern Europe about 1230-1240, when the supply of ivory increased due to the opening of new trade routes with the Mediterranean area. They are characterized by the presence of arches, architectural features framing the main scenes and emphasizing their sacred nature. Here, Christ on the cross is flanked by the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist, intercessors for the salvation of Christians.