Altar frontal showing Christ Commissioning the Apostles



One of three panels in a series made for the Archbishop of Magdeburg, the others being M8062 and M8017. Sixteen of the series survive and two others are known from an early 16th century drawing. It is believed the ivory panels may have constituted an altar-frontal, hence the conventional name 'Magdeburg antependium'. By the mid-11th century the panels were being detached and re-used. The scene is of Christ Commissioning the Apostles - Christ, with a nimbed halo, barefoot, with a scroll in his left hand, addresses twelve disciples, of whom only the leader, bearded, tonsured and also barefoot, is shown in full profile. The eyes of Christ and the leading disciple are drilled. The background consisting of crosses with single incised borders, and the whole image sunk within the broad, plain outer frame. Provenance: Hallesches Heiltum c.1520; Possenti collection, Fabriano c.1820; Joseph Mayer by 1855.