Bookbinding depicting The Crucifixion with women at the Sepulchre
Carved rectangular panel, an element of the binding of a book. Shows the Crucifixion with women at the Sepulchre.
The Crucifixion is beneath tabula ansata inscribed IESVS NAZAREN’ / REX IVDAEORVM; busts of the sun (left) and moon (right) in the heaven above. Below Christ (left) Longinus, with spear in his left hand, gestures with his right to acknowledge ‘Certainly this was a righteous man’ (Luke 23:47). Below Christ (right) Stephaton, with situla to left at his feet, fixes the vinegar-filled sponge to a reed (described in John 19:29). Far left the Virgin weeps; far right St John the Evangelist holds his gospel book in his left hand, In the lower scene is a Roman tomb; it is built in brick, with a cornice below the dome; the arched cupola has a double finial on top. Two sleeping soldiers – the one in front with spear and shield – fail to guard Christ’s sepulchre (described in Matthew 27:62-28:7). The stone that blocked the entry provides a seat for an angel, with a staff in his left hand, who raises his right hand to address the three women approaching from right. The fine acanthus frame is delimited on the inside and outside by a plain strop (1mm wide), which is double except to the left of the sepulchre. The Virgin’s right hand, the left wall of the sepulchre and the front soldier’s spear encroach on the frame to the left and (base of the spear) below.
The form of the panel suggests that it was made from an older ivory with the design planed off to enable the carving of a new image, the result of the scarcity of elephant ivory in the 9th century. The back of the panel has evidence of cross hatching at the edges, such marks are evidence of the re-use of the panel bossibly in re-carving the back or attaching the panel to a liturgical books
The panel was bought by Gabor Fejérváry by 1844 from J.D. Böhm, Vienna. Fejérváry (1781-1851) was born in the modern-day Slovak Republic. In 1851 Fejérváry's collection was bequeathed to his nephew, Ferenc Pulszky, who sold the collection to Joseph Mayer in 1855.