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in Annunciation to the Shepards scene, on scroll held by angel: +PUER NATUS; in Adoration of the Magi scene, an illegible inscription on scroll held by angel; in Crucifixion atop cross: INR; in Descent from the Cross scene, atop cross: INR; in Three Women at the Tomb scene, on scroll held by angel: + Non est. hic. sursesst [?]


Alexandre Du Sommerard [1779-1842], Paris, before 1839;[1] government of France, 14 July 1843-before 1847;[2] Debruge Duménil family, Paris, before 1850; (sold at Hôtel des Ventes Mobilières, Paris, 23 January-12 March 1850, no. 159); "M. Isaac;"[3] George Field, Ashurst Park, before 1857-1893;[4] John Edward Taylor, London, after 1893-1912; (his estate sale, Christie, Mason & Woods, London, 1-3 and 9-10 July 1912, 1st day, no. 81, the first reference to the inlaid case); (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York); purchased 11 November 1912 by Peter A.B. Widener or Joseph E Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Art Treasures of the United Kingdom: Museum of Ornamental Art, Art Treasures Palace, Manchester, 1857, unnumbered in catalogue, pl. 5.
Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Works of Art of the Medieval, Renaissance, and More Recent Periods on Loan at the South Kensington Museum ..., South Kensington Museum, London, 1862, no. 196, as c. 1400.
Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, Detroit Institute of Arts; Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1997, no. 84, as by Master of the Agrafe Forgeries.

Technical Summary

While the diptych panels are ivory, bone was used along with wood for the inlaid case.[1] The ivory panels are in remarkably good condition. Traces of gilding noted by Du Sommerard in 1846 have survived (or been renewed), especially on the haloes. Metal nails pierce the hands and feet of Christ in the Crucifixion. The background, of wood coated with parchment, is polychromed, with blue decorated with gold stars, rays or swirling patterns behind the narrative scenes, and brownish yellow behind the architectural borders and figures on the sides.

A strip of ivory 9.8 cm long has come off the top border on the left. Ivory bands on the edges are loose in many places. The intarsia is warping on the exterior at the bottom of the recessed inner panel on the front. Some checkerboard portions of the intarsia are inlaid, others painted.

[1] Report of 22 July 1992, in NGA conservation laboratory files.


Du Sommerard, Alexandre and Edmond. Les Arts du Moyen Age. 5 vols., atlas and album. Paris, 1838-1846, 5:111, repro. 5th ser., V-VI album (3d vol.), pl. XV.
Labarte, Jules. Description des objets d'art qui composent la collection Debruge Duménil. Paris, 1847: 457-458, no. 159.
South Kensington 1862, no. 196.
Koechlin, Raymond. Les ivoires gothiques français. 2 vols. and portfolio. Paris, 1924: 1:324, 2:322, 324, no. 861.
Inventory of the Objects d'Art at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, The Estate of the Late P.A.B. Widener. Philadelphia, 1935: 32.
Works of Art from the Widener Collection. Foreword by David Finley and John Walker. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 10, as Italian (Milanese) 15th Century, Ivory diptych.
Christensen, Erwin O. Objects of Medieval Art from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952: 24-25, repros. 26-27, 31.
Herzog, Erich, and Anton Ress. "Elfenbein, Elfenbeinplastik." In Schmitt, Gall, Heydenreich, eds. Reallexikon zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte. 8 vols. Stuttgart, 1937-: 4 (1958): 1335, 1336, 1359, repro. 1334.
Leeuwenberg, Jaap. "Early Nineteenth-Century Gothic Ivories." Aachener Kunstblätter 39 (1969): 122-124, repro. 123, 124, 126.
Distelberger, Rudolf, Alison Luchs, Philippe Verdier, and Timonthy H. Wilson. Western Decorative Arts, Part I: Medieval, Renaissance, and Historicizing Styles including Metalwork, Enamels, and Ceramics. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1993: 77-80, repro. 77.
Williamson, Paul and Glyn Davies. Medieval Ivory Carvings: early Christian to Romanesque. 2 vols. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014: 1: 328, repro.
Vignon, Charlotte. Duveen Brothers and the Market for Decorative Arts, 1880-1940. New York, 2019: 226, 276 n. 813.

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