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French ivory book cover of Christ

November 6th, 2011 by

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This photograph is of a section of a book cover carved from ivory in France between 900 and 1100. It shows a large figure of Christ, with a large, pearled, cruciferous nimbus, seated within a double aureola, the large upper one pointed at the top and the lower one round and surrounding the legs and forming a seat on which he is sitting. He is depicted as quite young, with long flowing hair, beardless. He is holding a book in his left hand, while his right is raised in benediction. In the four corners are the four winged symbols of the Evangelists (Matthew = an angel, Mark = a winged lion, Luke = a winged ox, John = an eagle). On both sides of Christ are six winged cherubim and below them are circular discs with the bull of Sol, with the head uncovered, resting on a plain round nimbus, and Luna, with a crescent. Below each of them is a rosette surrounded by a foliated border.

This photo-mechanical print is one of the 24 Woodburytypes pasted into J. O. Westwood’s 1876 publication, ‘Fictile [casts of] Ivories in the South Kensington Museum’.

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