Diptych with the Coronation of the Virgin and the Last Judgment

Date: ca. 1260–70

Geography: Made in probably Paris, France

Culture: French

Medium: Elephant ivory, with metal mounts

Dimensions: Overall (opened): 5 x 5 1/8 x 3/4 in. (12.7 x 13 x 1.9 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.324.7a, b

Description

Conceived as sculpture in high relief, this diptych telescopes two leading themes of the Gothic era: the Last Judgment and the Coronation of the Virgin. Each scene is presented in two zones. Above, on the right, is Christ Enthroned in Judgment displaying his wounds, with angels holding instruments of the Passion and the Virgin and Saint John kneeling in prayer. Below, angels trumpet the fate of the risen while the damned are pitched into the Mouth of Hell. On the left is the Coronation of the Virgin by an angel in the presence of Christ, while below, a retinue of the saved souls—including a mendicant friar, a king, a pope, and possibly a deacon—is ushered up a ladder to a celestial paradise by an angel who points the way.

The precision of forms with deeply undercut figures produces an exceptional degree of sculptural projection. The noble gestures of veneration and the supple, full draperies are characteristic of the courtly tendencies of Paris during the middle of the second half of the thirteenth century.

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