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Catalogue of the mediaeval ivories, enamels, jewellery, gems and miscellaneous objects bequeathed to the museum by Frank McClean online

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book of the Gospel. Within the laurel wreath is an interior band
of foliate ornament ; the background, the cross in the nimbus, and
the pages of the book held by Christ have all been gilded, probably
in modern times.

Plate V. Caroltngian, ()th century.

L. 6 in.

B. Sjin. From the Barrels and Ashburnham Collections; removed from
the modern cover of a Gospel of the tenth century, McClean MS. 19, probably
written in N.E. France.

A. Goldschmidt in Jahrbuch dtr k. preussischen Kunstsa7fimlu}tgen, 1905,
p. 9, fig. 4.

For the group to which this ivory belongs, see Introduction, p. 22. The
date of the earliest examples has been determined by Dr Goldschmidt in the
article mentioned above. A pair of ivory panels now in the Louvre (E. Molinier,
Catalogue of the Ivories, no. 9) are so exactly described in some dedicatory
verses in a Carolingian Psalter in the Hofbibliothek at Vienna that they must
have once adorned its cover. These verses show that the book was presented
by a King Karl to a Pope Hadrian ; and though on three separate occasions a
Karl and a Hadrian were contemporaries, palaeographical reasons favour the
identification of the donor with Charlemagne: the scribe Dagulf, whose name
is mentioned as the writer of the MS., also appears to have lived in the early
Carolingian period. The ivory panels must have been made for the manuscript
because the verses describe all the four scenes with which they are ornamented,
and two of these, the reception by St Jerome of the message from Pope Damasus
requesting him to correct the Psalter according to the Septuagint, and the
subsequent undertaking of the task, are by no means common subjects. The
conclusion is that both the MS. in Vienna and the ivory covers in Paris must
have been finished before the year A.D. 795 in which Hadrian I died.

This argument provides a terminus a quo for a whole series of ivories
presenting the same peculiarities of style, and justifies the attribution of the
better and more characteristic examples to the close of the eighth century or
the earlier part of the ninth. The inferior carvings may be distributed through
the ninth and early tenth centuries ; for as the manuscript style with which
they are connected was of wide influence and great duration, a similar longevity
may be assumed for the products of the related plastic art. Even should it be
urged that the Karl and Hadrian mentioned in the dedication are not the first
but either the second or third pair bearing these names we still remain within
the limits of the ninth century, for Charles the Bold and Hadrian II were
contemporary from A.D. 867 — 872, and Charles the Fat and Hadrian III in
A.D. 884 — 885. Moreover the last pair should probably be eliminated, as


Charles the Fat was Emperor and not King during the papacy of the third

The ivory upon this book-cover may be more especially compared with
those carvings in the group brought together by Dr Goldschmidt which offer
representations of Our Lord, especially with the large panel in the Bodleian
Library at Oxford (West wood, Fictile Ivories, pi. \i ; Uidron, A /males
Archdologiqucs, XX, p. 118), as to which there had previously been some
uncertainty of opinion (see Introduction, p. 23). Its central figure represents
Our Lord standing upon the lion and dragon; the youthful beardless face and
long flowing hair are very similar, and the drapery is treated in the same
manner. The resemblance to another ivory in the group is not so close, though
the subject is almost identical. This is the panel in the Berlin Museum,
formerly in the Davillier and Odiot Collections (Konigliche Museen, Beschreibittig
der Bildwerkc <ief ChristlicJicn Epoche, 1902, no. 39 A, pi. 13 ; Westwood, Fictile
Ivories, pi. .xiii ; Gazette des Beaux- Arts, P^riode III, V^ol. I, 1889, p. 247;
Goldschmidt, as above, fig. 11, p. 15), where Christ is also seated in glory
holding a book and blessing with his right hand. Another ivory which it is
instructive to compare is the great panel in five parts in the Victoria and Albert
Museum (W. Maskell, Description of the Ivories. the South Kensington
Museum, p. 53), the companion panel to which is in the Vatican (R. Kanzler,
Gli avori dei Musei sacro e profano della Biblioteca Vaticatia, Museo Sacro,
pi. iv, Rome, 1903) and has in the centre a figure of our Lord trampling upon
lion and dragon, as in the Bodleian book-cover. Other examples of the group
which are in England and accessible to the student are in the British Museum
{Archaeologia, Vol. LVlil, pi. xxxiii, and fig. 3 on p. 432; H. Graeven in Photo-
graphischer Nachbildttng, Series I, no. 31) and in the John Rylands Library
at Manchester (formerly in the Bateman and Crawford Collections ; South
Kensington Museum photographs, no. 14220). The remaining examples,
chiefly in France, Germany and Italy, are mentioned in Dr Goldschmidt's list
(pp. 16-19).

The foliated borders so frequent upon Carolingian diptychs are derived
from those of late classical and early Byzantine times. Such borders were
commonly of palmettes or acanthus leaves, examples of the former being seen
on the famous diptych of the Symmachi and Nicomachi, of which the two
leaves are at South Kensington and in the Louvre respectively, and of the
latter on consular diptychs and other sculptures ^ On the fine diptych in the
Liverpool Museum with Aesculapius and Hygeia, the palmette and acanthus-
leaf are used alternately. Some borders were imitated from architectural
mouldings, such as the egg and dart, or the astragalus. The oval foliate band
within the laurel of our ivory panel is of a hybrid design which suggests a

^ Panel representing Bellerophon on Pegasus in the British Museum, where the foliage
is incised and not in relief; diptych of the Consul Boethius (a.D. 487) at Brescia (Molinier,
Ivoires, no. 5, p. 19). Round the panels of the simulated marble doors in the gallery at
Sta Sophia, Constantinople [Jnhrbuch licr koniglich prcussischcn A'intstsanintlu)tj(en, xv,
•893. PP- 75—76, fig- 4)-


compromise between the palmetle and some such mouldinj(. Borders were
introduced into the iUuniination of manuscripts at an early period : they occur
in the Vienna manuscript of Dioscorides, and their original use has been con-
jecturally assigned to the ancient art of Mesopotamia.

The following iconographical points may be noticed in connection with this

The representation of the beardless and youthful Christ seated upon the
rainbow, or as here upon the throne, was a favourite subject in the early Middle
Ages. In this aspect Christ is regarded as Emmanuel, the incarnate Logos
removed from the changes of mortality and possessed of eternal youth. To
give effect to this idea, the youthful types of Christ, which early Christian art
derived from Hellenistic sources, were retained long after the bearded or
Nazarene type had come into general use. In the West, this youthful Christ is
frequent to the close of the Romanesque period, while in the East it continued
even later. For in Byzantine art it was usual always so to represent Christ in
scenes which have no direct relation to his earthly career : he is so seen for
example on the famous dalmatic in St Peter's at Rome, which modern criticism
assigns to a later date than the twelfth century. The usual marks of the
Emmanuel type are the open book or roll and the gesture of benediction.

The rainbow or the throne within the glory or mandorla are intended to
suggest the same idea of universal dominion implied by the globe on which
Christ is seated in many early mosaics and even in one of the frescoes of the
catacombs ^ Christ upon the throne is seen in the sixth century mosaics of
S. Michele in Affricisco, now in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum at Berlin, and
one of the mural paintings at Bawit in Egypt, of about the same date. The
conception is that known as the Majestas Domini, the elements of which are
already to be found in St Jerome's commentaries on Isaiah (ch. vi), Ezekiel
(ch. i and x), and Daniel (ch. vii). In these commentaries there is mention of
the throne, of the rainbow seat, explained as the sign of the covenant between
God and man, as well as of the Evangelists or their symbols.

The glory or mandorla, so common in mediaeval sculpture and painting, is
so called because its pointed oval shape resembles that of an almond ; it is to
the whole body what the nimbus is to the head. It was of quite early occurrence
in Christian art, being found for instance in the nave-mosaics of S. Maria
Maggiore at Rome, which no critics place later than the fourth or early fifth
century, while by some they are assigned to an even earlier date-.

^ E.g. mosaics of Sta Costanza at Rome, S. Vitale at Ravenna, the lost mosaics of
S. Agatha at Rome. The frescoes are in the Cemetery of S. Priscilla and in the Basilica
of SS. Felix and Adauctus in the Cemetery of Commodilla : the former are assigned
by Wilpert to the 4th, the latter to the 6th century.

^ J. P. Richter and A. Cameron Taylor, The Golden Age of Classic Christian Art.
The mandorla surrounds the figure of the central angel in the scene under the oak at
Mamre. Other early examples are in the mural paintings at Hawil in Egypt, where they
surround Christ as infant and Christ enthroned (J. (Jledat, Man. de I' Instittit francais
d'arch. orientale dti Cain-, xii, 1904, p's. xc, xci, xcvi) ; the apse mosaic in the church of


The symbols of the Evangelists, almost from the time when they were first
used in Christian art, have been usually associated with representations of our
Lord in majesty. On the fourth-century ivory in the Trivulzi Collection at
Milan (E. Molinier, /7w/v.f, pi. vi), perhaps the earliest instance of their use,
only two are present, and the scene depicts the empty tomb of Christ, with the
angel and the Holy Women. In the earliest mosaics of Naples and Ravenna
all four were grouped about central symbols (the sacred monogram or the Lamb)
representing Our Lord. In the frescoes at Bawit in Egypt, none of which are
likely to be later than the seventh century, the four visionary beasts surround
the figure of our Lord. (J. Clifdat, Mcinoires dc Phislitut fran^ais d^arch^ologie
orientate dit Caire, pis. xc, .xci.)

The symbols became far more popular in Western than in Byzantine art.
They occur in our own islands in the famous Lindisfarne Gospels of about
A.D. 700 (The Durham Book, British Museum, Cotton MS., Nero D. iv) and
from this time onward are very frequent in Western painting and sculpture,
especially in Romanesque representations of the Majestas Domini. In the
East, they do not seem to occur until the late Byzantine period : after the
closer contact with the West which followed the fourth crusade, they
become more common. Mr Herbert's claim that the symbols are character-
istically Western may be regarded as just {Burlington Magazine^ Vol. xiii,
June, 1908).

35. Panel. An archbishop, beardless and with curly hair,
stands facing the spectator, with his left hand holding open a book
upon a desk the side of which is carved with double arches in two
tiers; his right hand is raised in the gesture of benediction. Behind
his head is a scalloped niche, and above this, seen in three-quarter
figure, five servers or deacons stand before a second niche of the
same character. Before him in a semicircle stand seven canons in
the act of singing, with hands extended or raised. At the top and
bottom of the panel is a crenelated wall interrupted by pairs of
towers with round arched windows. The whole is inclosed within
a finely carved border of acanthus leaves.

The archbishop wears an alb ; a tunicle (dalmatic) with orfreys
ornamented at intervals with raised loop-like ornaments in pairs,
one on either side, and with a border of embroidered crosses at the
extremity of the sleeves; an embroidered and fringed stole; a

Panagia Kanakaria in the Carpass, Cyprus; a miniature in the gospels of Etchmiadzin
(J. Strzygowski, Byzantinische Deukiiialer, \o\. i), none of which are later than the
7th century.


chasuble cut square at the neck and apparently made to open
down to the breast ; and a pallium fringed at the end and fastened
over the breast with a pin. The canons wear albs, rochets, and
hooded copes or almuses; the deacons tunicles with orfreys orna-
mented in the same manner as that of the archbishop. The
archbishop and canons are all tonsured.

Plate VI. Caroliitgia/i, ()th century.

H. 13J in. B. 5'J in. From the Spitzer Collection. Figured : La Collection
Spitzer, Paris, 1900, \'ol. i, Ivoires, pi. \- ; E. Molinier, Ivoires, pi. xii ; Rohault
de Fleury, La Messe., \"i, pi. 478. On these panels see Darcel, in La Collection
Spitzer, as above, p. 22 ; Molinier, as above, p. 133 ; Westwood, Fictile Ivories,
p. 448; W. Bode, Die deutsche Plastik, Berlin, 1887, p. 9 ; F. C. Ebrard,
Die Stadtbihliothek in F7-ankfHrt am Main, Frankfurt, 1896, pp. 173 — 174 and
179 ; Rohault de Fleury, La Messe, Vol. i, pi. ix, and Vol. vi, p. 150 (drawing
of Frankfort ivory).

The panel is the companion of that which, very probably since the middle of
the fifteenth century, has ornamented the cover of a fourteenth-century manu-
script of the Gospels now preserved in the Stadtbihliothek at Frankfort on the
Main, and represents the same archbishop saying mass (J. D. Passavant,
Erhaben gearbeitete Elfe7ibeintafel aus deni IX Jahrhundert in der Frankfurter
Stadtbibliothek, in Archiv fiir Frankftirts Gcschiclitc und Kunst,\o\. I, pp. I32ff.,
and pi. iv). The book is mentioned in an inventory of the Cathedral Sacristy
dating from a.d. 1450 as a gift of one Hartmann Becker, and Passavant con-
cludes with probability that the binding in its present form is of that period.
From the cathedral it passed into the library of the Bartholomausstift, and on
the secularisation of that institution in 1803 was transferred to the municipal
library. There is no reason to believe that the M'^'Clean panel ever ornamented
the other cover of the book, and the story that it was stolen in 1803 is apocryphal.
The volume shows no sign of its removal, and careful descriptions dating from
the eighteenth century make no mention of it (Hiisgen, Artistisches Magazin,
pp. 538 ff. ; Catalogue of the Library of the Bartholomausstift by Batton, dated
1776). Passavant had plausibly conjectured, though without conclusive evidence,
that the panel at Frankfort may have formed part of the gifts presented by
Lewis the German to the churches in that town. However that may be the two
covers have clearly been separated for a great length of time, perhaps from an
early period in the Middle Ages. From the nature of the two inscriptions
engraved upon the open books it is a fair inference that the ivories were
originally intended to form the covers of a Missal, for in the Cambridge panel
the inscription is the Introit for Advent Sunday which stands at the beginning
of the Missal, while in the Frankfort ivory it has the passage from the Canon
which marks the central and most important part of the service. The words in
the former case, written \ery incorrectly in a cursive hand, are : Ad te le7'avi
animani ?neani, Deus uieus, in te confido, non crubcscant : nct/ue irrideant nic


inimici mci: ilfnini univcrsi qui sustineiil tc itoii confundi'iitur (I's. xxiv. 1 — 3);
in tlic latter, Te i^i^itiit\ cU'inentissime pater, per Jesuin Christum Ji/iuiu tuutn
dominuin nostrum su/>plices te rogamur ut accepta {li)abcas et he?iedicas haec

These two panels form a class by themselves, and must be ascribed to an
artist whose work is not represented on any other ivories of the Carolingian
period. Many characteristics indeed they share with these : the strong thick-set
figures, tlie realism of treatment are found elsewhere, l^ut the peculiar com-
bination of a grandiose if too symmetrical design with the most exact precision
of detail, lends the two panels a peculiar quality of their own. It is difficult to
suppose that work of this kind was executed in the decline of the Carolingian
period : Dr l)odc indeed considered it to be actually contemporary with
Charlemagne, pointing to the close resemblance of the architecture with that of
the Carolingian revival. Other authorities are inclined to favour a rather later
date, M. Molinier assigning it to the close of the ninth or the beginning of the
tenth century. But the latter is the extreme limit, and there seems in fact little
reason to cross the boundary of the earlier century. There are unfortunately
few indications which might assist us to assign a more precise date. The
costumes are all ecclesiastical ; and as the ivory itself affords one of the best
illustrations of a period when vestments were still undergoing a process of
evolution, the comparative method yields no very certain results.

The documents {Ordos) which describe the ceremonial accompanying the
Roman mass do not in their present shape go back further than the close of
the eighth century, and they occasionally dift'er in points of detail, but it may
be safely assumed that they embody the usages of earlier centuries, and in all
essentials they give us the ceremonial of the sixth or even the fifth centur>'^
Before we can form a true idea of its nature, we must eliminate from the
ceremonial of the present day the additions made in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, such as the elevation of the Host and Chalice, with the accompanying
lights and torches, censings, bell-ringings and genuflexions. Ritual pomp was
really confined to two moments : the entry of the celebrant into the church and
up to the altar ; and to the singing of the gospel. On the occasion of a great
feast when there was a papal or episcopal mass, the procession of the celebrant
and his ministers to the altar consisted of seven acolytes bearing torches, seven
deacons, and seven sub-deacons, all wearing from the Pope or bishop down to
the acolytes, the planeta or chasuble. The choir of singers was already
stationed in the presbyterium ranged in two groups, one on either side of the
sanctuary in front of the altar. The presence of the uneven number of seven
canons upon the ivory may thus be intentional. The archbishop wears the
ample chasuble of the Carolingian period (Rohault de Fleury, La Messe,
Vol. VII, pp. 125 ff. and pi. dlxvii), which, as worn by the higher ecclesiastics,
was often of silk enriched with gold and silver thread. Good examples are to

1 For the statements in this and the following paragraphs, see a paper by Mr
Edmund Bishop read before the Historical Research Society, May 8, 1899.


be seen in the miniatures of the Sacramentary of Drogo formerly at Metz and
now in the BibHoth^que Nationale at Paris, where for the first time we notice
the kind of hood or capuchon at the back of the neck, much as it appears on
the chasubles of the canons upon our ivory (F. X. Kraus, Kuust luid Altcrthum
ill Lofhrifigen, ill, 1889, pis. xiv and xv, and p. 577). It has already been stated
in the remarks upon the Ordos that the chasuble in the ninth century was by no
means the exclusively liturgical vestment which it has since become, and that
it was worn by all who took part in the procession at a papal or episcopal mass.
In the bible of Charles the Bold, the canons offering the book to the Emperor
wear chasubles of bright colours patterned and bordered with gold, and
showing the hood at the back.

The pallium, as here shown, is transitional between that of the earlier
centuries, which was thrown over the shoulders without attachment, and the
various later forms which were permanently made to form a collar with pendants
behind and in front. In the present case a pin is used to hold it in position
over the breast, perhaps the first example of this attachment known in mediaeval
art, for though Rohault de Fleury conjectures that the pallium of the archbishop
on the paliotto of S. Ambrogio at Milan (a.d. 835) may have had a pin, it is not
to be clearly distinguished. Pallia would appear to have been already sewn as
early as the ninth century if we may judge from a Metz MS. of that date in
the Bibliotheque Nationale (MS. Lat. 1 141), but this method of fixture does not
seem to have been general until considerably later, and pins were used as late
as the thirteenth century (Rohault de Fleury, La Messe^ Vol. viii, Chapter on
the pallium).

Good examples of the pallium and chasuble as worn rather later at the close
of the tenthcentur}'aretobe seen in the MSS. connected with Archbishop Egbert
of Treves (a.d. 977 — 993). See F. X. Kraus, Die Miniaturett dcs Codex Egberti,
pi. ii, and Sauerland and Haseloff, Der Psalter Erzbischof Egberts von Trier,
pi. ii.

It may be observed that the conventional representation of a town by means
of a polygonal walled enclosure with towers at intervals, so common with
Carolingian and succeeding periods, is an inheritance from earlier times.
Places referred to in the Notitia Digiiitatum are indicated in this manner, and
something of the same kind is to be seen in the Vatican MS. of Cosmas Indico-
pleustes (Cod. Graec. 699).

It is impossible to say where this panel and its companion at Frankfort
were made. They do not fall into any of the classes into which Carolingian
ivories have been more or less conjecturally divided : and they bear no intrinsic
evidence pointing to their place of origin.

36. Casket of wood, covered with ivory plaques fixed with
bone pegs.

The casket is rectangular, the lid approaching the form of a
truncated pyramid : each of the sides is ornamented with two sunk


panels bordered with narrow plaques carved with formal rosettes.
All these panels are carved with animals or monsters, and those of
the front and back have on either side strips of intarsia in green,
white and black.

On the frt)nt are a lion and another quadruped ; on the back,
the same quadruped and a gryphon ; on the left end a gryphon
and a lion ; on the right end two gryphons : each animal is near a
tree. On the oblong panel on the lid, which is bordered by intarsia
work, are a gr)-phon and a quadruped divided by a sacred tree: on
the sides and rims arc vine and other scroll designs.

Plate VII. Byzantine., \2th century.

L. 9| in. B. -]% in. From the Spitzer Collection. La Collection Spitzer,
I, p. 30. H. Graeven, Jahrbuch der kiinsthistorischen Samviliingen des aller-
hijchsten Kaiser Jiaiises^ \o\. XX, Vienna, 1899, "o. 43, p. 27.

Another casket from the same collection with a flat sliding lid, now in the
Brussels Museum, has animals of similar character (Destree, Musces Royaux
des arts decoralifs et industriels, Catalogue des Ivoires, 1902, no. 4, p. 17). A
third is in the Treasury of the Cathedral of Wiirzburg (J. von Hefner Alteneck,
Trachten, Kunstivvrke und Gerdf/tschaftcii, \'ol. 1, pi. i, Frankfort, 1879). A
fourth is in the collection of Henry Oppenheimer, Esq., of London.

This casket, by the character of the borders with rosettes, is allied to the
large group of Byzantine caskets with mythological and classical subjects, of
which one of the finest and earliest examples is that formerly in the Cathedral
of Veroli, and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum at South Kensington
(see H. Graeven, Jahrbuch der kuiisthistorischen Saniinlungen des allerhochsten
Kaiserhauses, Vienna, 1899, pp. 5 ff., and HArte, Vol. ll, 1899; ^- Venturi,
Le gallerie nasionali italiane., ill, 1897, pp. 261 ff, DArte., I, 1898, and Storia
deir arte italiana, I, pp. 512 ff.; R. von Schneider, Serta Harteliana, Vienna,
1896). The Veroli casket probably dates from the ninth century ; but from the
degeneration in the style of other examples, it is probable that work of this
kind continued to be made for some two hundred years. The caskets with
mythological subjects are supposed to have first appeared when the iconoclastic
persecution compelled the ivory carvers to seek other than religious models;
antique silver plate and early miniatures provided the inspiration for the
designs. Perhaps at the time when the iconoclastic tradition was a thing of
the past and religious subjects were once more prescribed, the caskets with
similar rosette borders but with figures of saints &c. and scriptural scenes (the
story of Adam and Eve) were manufactured (Graeven, L'Arte, 1899; Venturi,
Storia &c., ll, pp. 606—608). It is interesting to note that the small group
representing the expulsion from Eden on the bronze door of the Cathedral at
Pisa is so very like the representation of the same scene on an ivory panel
from a Byzantine casket in the Museo Oliveriano at Pesaro, that Bonannus

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Online LibraryFitzwilliam Museum. McClean BequestCatalogue of the mediaeval ivories, enamels, jewellery, gems and miscellaneous objects bequeathed to the museum by Frank McClean → online text (page 10 of 14)