Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Plaque with the Virgin Mary as a Personification of the Church

Date:
ca. 800–825
Geography:
Made in Aachen, Germany
Culture:
Carolingian
Medium:
Ivory
Dimensions:
Overall: 8 11/16 x 5 11/16 x 5/16 in. (22 x 14.5 x 0.8 cm)
Classification:
Ivories
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.49
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
This splendid carving is one of the largest single ivory panels to survive from Carolingian Europe. The spindles in Mary’s left hand often appear in depictions of the Annunciation, as she receives the news that she is to be the mother of Jesus. The military appearance of her dress and the cross-topped scepter she holds suggest that she could also be understood here to represent the triumph of the Church. The curious juxtaposition of the figure of Mary as the recipient of the Annunciation and as the symbol of the Church is unique to this ivory plaque. Recent cleaning of the ivory has revealed the exceptional beauty of the rhythmic drapery.
[ Frédéric Spitzer (d. 1890), Paris (sold 1893)]; Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cologne(sold 1906); [ Jacques Seligmann, Paris (sold 1906)]; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (1906–1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
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