Clementinus Diptych



Ivory diptych, commemorating Clementinus for AD 513. A diptych consists of two leaves, hinged together. The inner sides are sunken panels, originally containing wax; the outer sides are elaborately carved. The wax would have been inscribed with a formal letter of notification or invitation. At some point, probably in the later eighteenth century, the panels were mounted in reverse order in a marquetry frame. Recto, left panel: Clementinus as consul, seated on a stool with lion heads and lions' feet, the cushion and seat shown face on rather than in perspective. The consul's feet are on a two-tiered footstool. In Clementinus' right hand, the mappa (piece of cloth) used to start the consular games; in his left hand, a sceptre with the emperor's head. To the left, the figure of Constantinople; to the right, the figure of Rome, each standing in front of a Corinthian column. Named Clementinus (in Latin and Greek) above his head. Medallions of the empress Ariadne to the left and emperor Anastasius to the right above, with a cross between. In the lower part of the panel, two barefooted youths pour out sacks of coins, with ingots and silver laurel leaves. Recto, right panel: iconography is identical with the left panel with only minor stylistic differences. Verso right and left panels: the reverse of both panels was inscribed in the later 8th century with prayers that are a good and early example of the reuse of a consular diptych in the Christian liturgy. The text consists of an excerpt from the Greek liturgy, a prayer for John, priest of St Agatha, and (in another hand) prayers on behalf of Pope Hadrian I (being pope 772-95), Andrew Machera and John the priest. The reference to Hadrian I as, ‘patriarch of the city’, suggest that these church donors lived in Rome and that the likely recipient is the church of St Agatha in Surbura, otherwise called St Agata dei Goti, in the centre of Rome, north-east of the forum of Trajan. A Greek community may have been established there in the 8th century. The diptych was in the collection of Joachim Negelein of Nürnberg (1675-1749) in the mid-18th century, and then the collection of Count Mihály Wiczay of Hédervár in south-west Hungary at the end of the century. Wiczay in turn sold it to Gabor Fejérváry in 1834. 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.