About this object

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.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Early Medieval (Carolingian)
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Western Europe: France
  • Date made
    820 AD - 840 AD about
  • Materials
    Elephant Tooth Ivory
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer
  • Collector
    Joseph Mayer
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
    1844 before
  • Measurements
    160 mm x 108 mm x 6 mm
  • Note
    Observations about the back of the panel made by Nicole Pulichene, Doctoral Candidate History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University on her visit July 2018.
  • Related people
    Joseph Daniel Boehm ( Previous owner); Gabor Fejérváry ( Previous owner); Joseph Mayer ( Collector, previous owner); Ferenc Pulszky ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • 799 -Kunst und Kultur der Karolingerzeit

    Publisher: Verlag Philipp Von Zabern
    Date: 1999

  • Ars Sacra: 800-1200

    Lasko, Peter

    Author: Lasko, Peter
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Date: 1972
    Description: A review of reliquaries and shrines, book binding and ivory carvings, goldsmith's work and bronze casting from the Early Middle Ages

  • Catalogue of Mediaeval & Later Antiquities contained in the Mayer Museum including the Mather collection of miniatures and medals relating to the Bonaparte family

    Gatty, Charles T

    Author: Gatty, Charles T
    Date: 1883
    Description: Catalogue of most of Joseph Mayer's medieval and post-medieval collection, which was either gifted by Mayer in 1867 or purchased from the Mayer Museum Duplicate Fund. The catalogue also lists the Mather Collection, which was left to the city of Liverpool in 1872 by Mr. John Mather, who obtained it in the first instance by purchase from Mayer. The collection of French Revolution badges and medals was purchased in 1870.

  • Catalogue of the Fejérváry Ivories, in the Museum of Joseph Mayer, Esq., F.S.A.

    Pulszky, F

    Author: Pulszky, F
    Date: 1856

  • Ivories

    Maskell, Alfred

    Author: Maskell, Alfred
    Publisher: Charles E Tuttle Co
    Date: 1966
    Description: A reprint of Alfred Maskell's 'Ivories', originally published in 1915

  • Liverpool Ivories: Special Exhibition

    Publisher: The Trustees of the British Museum
    Date: 1954
    Description: Catalogue of an exhibiton of ivory carvings lent by the City of Liverpool Public Museums, mostly from the Mayer-Fejervary collection.

  • The Liverpool Ivories: Late Antique and Medieval Ivory and Bone Carving in Liverpool Museum and the Walker Art Gallery

    Gibson, Margaret

    Author: Gibson, Margaret
    Publisher: HMSO; National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside
    Date: 1994
    Description: Catalogue of ivory and bone carvings from late antique and medieval held in collections of Liverpool Museum and the Walker Art Gallery.


  • Liverpool Ivories

    Start date: 1954-09-18
    End date: 1954-09-18
    Description: A temporary exhibition of 56 ivory carvings lent by the City of Liverpool Public Museums (now National Museums Liverpool) to the British Museum, London. The exhibition was organised by the department of Archaeology, Liverpool Museum (Elaine Tankard) and the department of British and Medieval Antiquities of the British Museum (P. Lasko). Some British Museum ivories which offer particularly close parallels with the Liverpool pieces were placed beside one another. The exhibition was held in the King Edward VII Gallery between 18 September 1954 and 3 September 1955 (extended from 5 March 1955) and an illustrated catalogue was published which cost 1s. 6d.

  • 799-Kunst und Kultur der Karolingerzeit Karl der Grosse und Papst Leo III. in Paderborn

    Start date: 1999-07-23
    End date: 1999-07-23
    Description: An exhibition to mark the meeting between Karl the Great and Pope Leo III in Paderborn. The exhibition, which was held in Paderborn in 1999, comprised almost 1000 exhibits from the Carolingian period.


Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: 1855
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Ferenc Pulszky

    Owned from: 1851-11-02
    How acquired: Inherited
    Owned until: 1855
    Disposal method: Auctioned
  • Gabor Fejérváry

    Owned from: 1844
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1851-11-02
    Disposal method: Bequest
  • Joseph Daniel Boehm

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1844
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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