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


The spindles in Mary's right hand often appear in depictions of the Annunciation, as she receives the news that she will bear the Christ Child. The military appearance of her costume and the cross-topped scepter she holds suggest that she should also be understood here as a personification of the Church Triumphant. The curious juxtaposition of the figure of Mary as the Virgin Mother of Christ and as the Church is unique to this ivory plaque.