Plaque with Christ Receiving Magdeburg Cathedral from Emperor Otto I

Date: ca. 962–968

Geography: Made in Milan (?)

Culture: Ottonian

Medium: Ivory

Dimensions: Overall: 5 1/8 x 4 7/16 x 5/16in. (13 x 11.3 x 0.8cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941

Accession Number: 41.100.157


Established as an important mission center by Emperor Otto the Great (r. 936–73), the new Cathedral of Magdeburg, west of modern Berlin, was dedicated in 968. On this ivory, Otto presents a symbolic model of the church to Christ for his blessing. As a humble servant, Otto is depicted smaller than the company of patron saints. The military Saint Mauritius, patron saint of the Ottonian empire and of Magdeburg, is shown behind Otto, presenting him to Christ. This panel and sixteen others illustrating the story of Christ's life were once part of a major piece of furnishing made for the cathedral, such as a pulpit, choir doors, or an altar. Following a fire in the 1000s, the set was dismantled and individual panels were used on reliquaries and book covers.