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style that emergedfrom the Mosan-Rhenish crucible,a prime centerof artisticinnovation in the high Middle Ages. Although small enough to fit in one's hand, the work is impressivefor the Virgin'sformidablepresence, the balanceddistributionof volumes, and the tenderrapportof mother and child. Indicativeof the refinedexecution, the heavy cloth of the Virgin'smantle is distinguished from the thin fabricof her tunic, and the child's hair is carvedas if it were braided. Recent conservationtreatmentfreedthe sculptureof Baroqueoverpaint,revealing the extraordinary finesseof the original decoration.The abundantuse of gold underscoresthe regalnatureof the figures,while the detailedrenderingof the facesmakestheir humanity palpable.Createdas an object of devotion, the sculptureshows tracesof wear on the crestsof the folds and on the child's feet, left arm, and thigh, where it was caressed and kissedby worshipers. jc
Fragment of a Hanging
Byzantine (Egypt), A.D. 400-6o0
weavewith stitchingweft in Tapestry wool and undyedlinen polychrome
in. (47.9 x 63.9 cm)
Gift of Nanette B. Kelekian, in honor of Nobuko Kajitani, zooz
This vibrantlycolored fragmentof a hanging is a rareexampleof the survivalof an Egyptian textile that may have been part of the furnishings of a Christiansite. It is one of two similar fragmentsgiven to the Museum by Nanette B. Kelekian.Each is decoratedwith an arch enclosing an elaboratelyjeweled form of the Christiancross. No other works of the type are known to have survived.The pieces were probablyonce part of one largehanging embellishedwith a seriesof archessupported by columns. One capital, adornedwith grapeclusters, and a portion of a column remain on the right edge of this fragment.The cross under the arch has been combined with the Greek letter chi (X) to form a varianton the Christogramwidely used by the earlychurch as an abbreviationfor the name of Christ. The patternson the textilereplicatethose found on contemporary Egyptianstone which would havebeen paintedin carvings,
brilliantcolors.Christianity similarly spread widely in Egypt, the countryin which monasticism first developed. When complete, the hanging may have been used in a doorwayor to screenoff an interiorpartof a church. HCE
Enthroned Virgin and Child
Mosan/Lower Rhenish, ca. I220
Limewoodwith originalpolychromy and gilding
in. (9.5 cm)
The Cloisters Collection,
Exceptionalfor its well-preserved polychromy, this sculptureof the Virgin and child is a quintessentialexampleof the vigorous"Year I200"
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Fragment of Compendium of the Genealogy of Christ English,ca. 1230 Ink onparchment 65y/x i3'8 in. (166. x 33.2 cm) The Cloisters Collection, 2ooz
enlivened with examplesrepresentingthe Mansions in the Desert (the forty-two places the Israelitesstopped over a period of three yearsduring the Exodus), the Twelve Tribes of Israel,and the city of Jerusalem.In creatinghis compendium, with its l complex interplayof word and
This manuscript,linking biblicalhistorywith the genealogyof Christ, conveys the scholastic traditionof the medievaluniversitycontext from which it derived.Written by Peter of Poitiers,chancellorat the Universityof Paris
from 1193 to Izo5, the Compendium Historiale
madea image,Peterof Poitiers
lasting contribution to both scholarshipand pedagogy.
Mirror Case or Box Cover French(Paris),ca. 1320-40 Elephantivory Diam. 5'2 in. (i4.r cm) The Cloisters Collection, 2003
Christi was essentiallyan abridgin Genealogia ment of biblicalhistory for students in the form of a genealogicaltree of Christ. It was frequentlycopied in a verticalroll and illustratedwith line drawingsand diagrams,as is this English example.The history of the world is organizedinto six ages, each introduced in the manuscriptwith a line drawing. This fine pen renderingof the Nativity illustratesthe sixth age-that of the Incarnation of Christ.The other figurativedrawingsin the manuscriptrepresentthe kings David and Zedekiah. Diagramswere important tools for medieval thinkers, and the manuscriptis
The attackon the Castle of Love became a popular image in the fourteenth century and is representedhere with particulardelicacy. Twenty-eight figuresand five horses occupy the ground in front of the castle, as well as its battlementsand windows. At the top the crowned and winged god of love preparesto launch an arrowtoward the lower left. The
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castle is defended by women armedwith roses that they hurl at the attackingknights. The knights are greeted by some women with welcoming gestures;and, in the upper left, a woman offers a crown to one of the trumpeters, who will announce the playful joust to take place before the portcullis. Two armed knights, their shields decoratedwith roses, ride in from the right to face their female opponents. A third, who has lost his shield and removed his helmet, stands on his horse to embracea woman in a window to the left of the castle entrance. The ivory disk is the size and shape of fourteenth-centurymirrorcases,some of which aredecoratedwith the same theme; but the reverseis, uncharacteristically, threadedat the that the disk may have been edge, suggesting the cover of a circularbox. PB
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Panel of a Casket French(Paris),ca. 1325-50 Ivory
4 % x I2
in. (I x 30.8 cm)
/ l^ ~ /M
The Cloisters Collection, 0oo3
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cnfrt. : Rmun t!ntc
The stag hunt, one of the principalsecular themes of the Middle Ages, is here eloquently portrayedin ivory. The action begins at the left with hounds and hunters on horseback departingthe castle. In a wooded setting women lure falcons, while the hunter has shot an arrowat the stag as hounds torment
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it; finally, as the stag seeks relief from the watersof a fountain, the hunter deliversthe coup de gracewith his sword. In medieval poetry such courtly themes were also regardedallegoricallyas the hunt for love. The panel originallyformed the back of an exceptionallylargecasket (now lost). The casketis known from an eighteenth-century engravingthat shows the conclusion of the hunt, with the stag'shead being presentedto courtly figures.As key examplesof secular ivory carvingin Parisduring the time of CharlesV (1338-1380), the images are renderedwith crisp, graphiccarvingthat creates rich surfaceand spatialeffects commensurate with the finest luxuryworks of the city. Joining the celebratedsecularivories from the Morgan collection, this panel and three others illustratedhere enable the Museum to offer an unparalleledglimpse of the secular CTL spirit of the high Middle Ages.
Cover of a Writing Tablet French(Paris),ca. 1325-50 Ivory
2Y8 in. (9.3 x .p9 cm) The Cloisters Collection,
Both sides of this ivory revealscenes of courtship taking place under trefoil arches. On one side (not shown), a man holding a bird of prey a symbol of his status has receiveda coronet from a woman and reciprocatesby crowning her, thus signifying her victory in winning his love. On the other side (below, left) the lovers kneel in adoration before the god of love, who throws darts to seal their devotion. Inspiredby numerous contemporarylove poems, these scenes are part of the stages of love as defined in courtly literaturesuch as the influential Romande la
Rose (ca. I230-75).
The lower scene depicts three episodes in the progressof an amorous relationship.Beneath trefoil archesa woman recoils from the advancesof her lover at the left; she has a more tentative response in the center;and on the right she embraceshim as he chucks her chin. Above, under an identical arcade,is the fountain of youth, an image rarelyrepresented in art during this period but known from romanceliterature. the left a bearded,old At man with a walking stick entersthe raised fountain'sflowing waters,which are already inhabitedby two smiling, youthful couples. In addition to devotional statuettes,diptychs, and triptychs,which survivein large numbers, Parisianivory carverssupplied their clients with combs, boxes, mirrorcases, and other objects frequentlydecoratedwith secular themes. This plaque was undoubtedly made to be the cover of a set of wax writing tablets. The ivory leaveswould have been held together by a cord passed through the two holes that can be seen at the top. Small tracesof paint indicate that this ivory was probablyoriginallypartiallypolychromed.
Intended to cover writing tablets, such plaqueswere among the deluxe products of Parisduring the fourteenth century and were possibly made on the rue de la Tabletterie,a name indicating their special use. Poems or messageswould have been written on smooth sheets of ivory that had recessedareasfilled with wax for the text. Perfecteconomy of technique and purity of style are clearlyevident in these amorous images. In their elegance of form and gesturethe courtly couples seem also to convey a moral and spirituallife that appearsboth manneredand artificialbut CTL is infused with joie de vivre.
Cover of a Writing Tablet
French (Paris), ca. 1320-40
4 -s x 2Xs in. (11.2 x 6.6 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 2003
Relief of a Bishop
South Lowlands, ca. 1400-1425
in. (3 cm)
The Cloisters Collection,
rose on his chest; his miter is encrustedwith jewels. Preservedas an isolated figure separatedfrom its original context-the majority of the survivingepitaphs in the region have an image of the Virgin at the center-this accomplishedcarvingstill conveys powerfully PB the solemnity of the funeraryrelief.
This finelycarvedimageof a bishop, executed in the darklimestonecharacteristic the of South Lowlands, is a fragment of a larger funeraryrelief. Dating to the time when RobertCampin (activeca. I405-44) was painting his seminalworks in Tournai, the jowled figureof a bishop displaysthe carefully observeddetailsthat evoke the new spiritof naturalism evident in early-fifteenth-century Netherlandishart. In its gray-bluelimestone and in its style, the bishop is consistentwith an importantgroup of epitaphsfound throughoutthe South Lowlands,such as the well-knownexamplesin Tournai Cathedral. The bishop wearsa cope with scrolling vines on its decorativeborders(orphreys) and a largeclasp (morse) in the form of a
The Circumcision German(Cologne),ca. I46o-70 Colorless paint andpot-metalglasswith vitreous and silverstain
x 22/2 in. (8I.p x 57.2 cm)
Purchase, Bequest of Jane Hayward, by exchange, and The Cloisters Collection, zoo3
Inside a temple the rite of circumcision is performedon the Christ child and witnessed by his mother and a mitered high priest. The individualizedfeaturesof the partici-
pants are renderedin refined and wellpreservedgrisaillepainting, which is set into relief by the brilliant saturatedcolors of the garments. The panel is one of about forty,now dispersedin collectionsmostly in the United Statesand England,that were once partof at leastthreevariantseriesof typologicalwindows, all basedon the same designs.Following the formatof the fifteenth-century Biblia two Old Testamentsceneswere pauperum, combined as prefigurations with one New Testamentscene. The style and iconography of the panelsreflecta knowledgeof the work of artistsof the Lowlands,notably contemporary van der Weyden, as well as that of local Rogier Cologne artistssuch as the Masterof Saint Severinand the Masterof the Holy Kinship. These typologicalwindows were apparently all destinedfor monasticfoundationsof the Kreuzbriider the (CrutchedFriars); present panel came eitherfrom the abbeyon the in Kreuzgasse Cologne or from one in the town of Schwarzenbroich Diren. bei nearby
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