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Open Access

Diptych: Scenes from the Life of Christ and the Virgin

Artist: Unknown French Artist Primary
mid-14th century
Dimensions: 6.69 x 8.17 x 0.44 in. (16.99 x 20.74 x 1.11 cm)
Dimensions Extent: overall (opened)
Object Type: Carving
Creation Place: Europe, France
Medium and Support: Ivory
Credit Line: Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.214)
Accession Number: L2010.01.09
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

The hinged panels show scenes from the Life and Passion of Jesus Christ, and the Life of the Virgin Mary. Veneration of the Virgin Mary was especially strong in the Gothic era. The portable diptych would have been used as a private devotional tool in the home or while its owner traveled. In the 13th century, ivory and bone carving rose in popularity due to an increased availability of the material as an unusually large number of walruses, whose tusks were used, migrated south. Ivory carving was an important industry in Paris, and remained a sustainable economic source until the late 15th century. The curving figures and elegant style are typical of the period.




Keywords

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carving
The act of shaping, marking, or decorating wood, stone, or another material by cutting or incising, typically using tools such as chisels and other blades. It refers to this process as it is applied to small-scale objects or to objects that are not considered art. "Carving" may also be considered a sculpture technique that is employed in the creation of art.
devotional images
Images, either two-dimensional pictures or three-dimensional, used in private piety or other religious purposes in a place of worship or home, intended as recipients of prayer or aids to meditation; distinct from images that serve the liturgy or are primarily didactic.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
religions
Belief systems that encompass various personal and institutional relationships between human beings and what they regard as holy, sacred, or divine, usually but not always a deity, or a spiritual or occult force. Participation in a religion is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship, often including group activities and alliance with a leader. Elements of a religion or similar belief system include doctrine, ritual, defined parameters of morality, and a code of living, often seen as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.
Christianity
Refers to the world religion and culture that developed in the first century CE, driven by the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Its roots are in the Judaic tradition and the Old Testament. The tenets include a belief in the death and redemptive resurrection of Jesus. The religion incorporates a tradition of faith, ritual, and a form of church authority or leadership.
sculpture
Three-dimensional works of art in which images and forms are produced in relief, in intaglio, or in the round. The term refers particularly to art works created by carving or engraving a hard material, by molding or casting a malleable material (which usually then hardens), or by assembling parts to create a three-dimensional object. It is typically used to refer to large or medium-sized objects made of stone, wood, bronze, or another metal. Small objects are typically referred to as "carvings" or another appropriate term. "Sculpture" refers to works that represent tangible beings, objects, or groups of objects, or are abstract works that have defined edges and boundaries and can be measured. As three-dimensional works become more diffused in space or time, or less tangible, use appropriate specific terms, such as "mail art" or "environmental art."

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