Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Plaque with Saint John the Evangelist

Date:
early 9th century
Geography:
Made in Aachen, Germany
Culture:
Carolingian
Medium:
Elephant ivory
Dimensions:
Overall: 7 3/16 x 3 11/16 x 1/4 in. (18.3 x 9.4 x 0.7 cm)
Classification:
Ivories
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1977
Accession Number:
1977.421
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
The Evangelist, accompanied by his symbol, the eagle, displays the opening text of his gospel. The deep layering of his tunic folds adds life and vigor to the Classical drapery forms. The roughly lettered inscription on the upper border, added at an early date, translates: "The word of John soars to heaven like an eagle." This plaque once was thought to be from a book cover, but it is now argued that this panel and three more, which represent the other authors of the Gospels, formed the wings of a triptych flanking an image of Christ in the central panel.
Inscription: [on pages of open codex, in Carolingian majuscules]
IN PRINCI / PIO ERAT / VERBVM (In the beginning was the Word [John 1:1])

[across top of plaque]
MOREVLANSAQVILEVERBUM PETITASTRA [JOANNES?] (more volans aquile verbo petit astra Joannes) (By means of the flying eagle, St. John through the world reaches the heavens [Sedulius])
C. Cain, London (sold 1977) ; [ Sotheby's, London(December 15, 1977, no. 23)]
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de Froment, Diane, ed. Art at Auction: The Year at Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1977–78. London: Sotheby's, 1978. p. 229.

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Harbison, Peter. "Earlier Carolingian Narrative Iconography: Ivories, Manuscripts, Frescoes and Irish High Crosses." Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz 31 (1984). p. 460, pl. 71.2.

Little, Charles T. "A New Ivory of the Court School of Charlemagne." In Studien zur mittelalterlichen Kunst 800-1250: Festschrift für Florentine Mütherich zum 70. Geburstag, edited by Katharina Bierbrauer, Peter K. Klein, and Willibald Sauerländer. Munich: Prestel, 1985. pp. 11–28, fig. 1, 3, 4, 9.

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Pawelec, Katharina. Aachener Bronzegitter: Studien zur karolingischen Ornamentik um 800. Bonner Beiträge zur Kunstwissenschaft, Vol. 12. Cologne: Rheinland-Verlag, 1990. pp. 155, 168, fig. 214.

Pushkin Museum and State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-prikladnoe iskusstvo ot pozdneĭ antichnosti do pozdneĭ gotiki: Iz sobraniĭ muze︠i︡a Metropoliten, Nʹ︠i︡u Ĭork i Khudozhestvennogo Instituta, Chikago. Moscow: Pushkin Museum, 1990. no. 5, p. 10.

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Brenk, Beat. "Schriftlichkeit und Bildlichkeit in der Hofschule Karls des Großen." In Testo e Immagine nell'Alto Medioevo. Vol. 2. Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull'alto Medioevo, 1994. pp. 651–52, 653, 655, fig. 19.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 1, p. 394.

Lasko, Peter. Ars Sacra, 800-1200. 2nd ed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994. pp. 23–24, fig. 30.

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Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 1, pp. 24, 193.

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Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 22-23.



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