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Back panel (fragment of a casket; coffret); reused as part of the binding of a book (Front)

Back panel (fragment of a casket; coffret); reused as part of the binding of a book (Front)
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Secular. Arthurian Romance.

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London, The British Library

Additional MS 36615 (Dalton 370)


Height: 190mm
Width: 74mm

Gawain in armour fighting the lion. Lancelot crossing the sword bridge, with spears falling from the sky. Gawain on the perilous bed, watched by the lion; bed on wheels with bells; shield with a lion paw; spears falling from the sky. The three maidens at the Château Merveil.

Dalton 1909: French, 14th century..


Not visible, due to insertion in the binding.

Object Condition
Plugged holes for missing mounts.

The panel originally was the back panel of an ivory casket (no trace of a lock and too narrow to be a lid). It is now inserted in a 19th-century binding of an early 14th-century French manuscript containing The Chanson of Godfrey of Bouillon, or Le Chevalier au Cygne (Additional MS 36615). For more details about this manuscript, see the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=8546&CollID=27&NStart=36615. It decorates the front cove, and the binding was clearly designed to accommodate this plaque, with four coats of arms placed on either side.

Collection of Jean-Baptiste Joseph Barrois (b. 1784, d. 1855), Lille; collection of Bertram Ashburnham (b. 1797, d. 1878), 4th earl of Ashburnham (acquired with the other Barrois manuscripts in 1849, it corresponds to Barrois MS 14 in the Ashburnham Library); by descent to Bertram Ashburnham (b. 1840, d. 1913), 5th earl of Ashburnham; Sotheby's, Barrois sale, 10-14 July 1901, lot 238; purchased by the British Museum ; the British Library opens its doors at St Pancras, London, in 1997.

O. M. Dalton, Catalogue of the Ivory Carvings of the Christian Era in the British Museum (London, 1909), no. 370, pl. LXXXVII.
P. Williamson and G. Davies, Medieval Ivory Carvings 1200-1550 (London, 2014), in relation to no. 227.


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