Replica book cover, Works of Charity and Mercy, Byzantine 12th C CE, fictile ivory plaster cast, made by Elkington and Co, London, England, 1855-1887
Plaster cast of an ivory original from the British Museum. Another cast from the same process is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (repro.1858-118)
The original was a cover of the psalter of the Princess Melisenda, daughter of Baldwin, King of Jerusalem. A vertical panel divided into six circular compartments, representing six of the acts of mercy, connected together by jewelled ribbons. The interstices are filled with monstrous birds and beasts sporting amongst branches. In each scene the person performing the act of charity is a king, dressed in royal robes of various fashions with a crown. The whole is enclosed in an arabesque border. Inside the upper margin is inscribed HERODIUS in small red capitals.
Upper left compartment - The King with an attendant gives food to a begger. A label by the King's head is inscribed with "Esurivi et dedistis mihi manducare" (trans. "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat").
Upper right compartment - The King, seated on a Byzantine throne and cushion, pours drink into a cup held by a beggar. A label by the King's head is inscribed with "Sitivi et dedistis michi bibere" (trans. "I was thirsty and you gave me drink").
Middle left compartment - The King, in a robe marked with the lati-clavus, takes a beggar by the hand to an open door. A label by the King's head is inscribed with "Hospes et collegistis me" (trans. "A stranger and you took me in").
Middle right compartment - The King, with an attendant, gives clothes to a naked man. A label by the King's head is inscribed with "Nudus et cooperuistis me" (trans. "Naked and you clothed me").
Lower right compartment - The King visits a sick person in bed. He stands in front of the sick person supporting them by the arm. A label by the King's head is inscribed with "Infirmus et visitastis me" (trans. "The weak and you visited me").
Lower left compartment - The King visits a prisoner whose legs and arms are fastened in the stocks. A label by the King's head is inscribed with "In carcere et venistis ad me" (trans. "In the prison and you came to me").
Reference: Westwood, J. O., 'Fictile Ivory Casts in the South Kensington Museum', Chapman and Hall, London, 1876 (58-118)