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Polyptych (tabernacle) (Front)

Polyptych (tabernacle) (Front)
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Religious. Life of the Virgin.

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Milan, Castello Sforzesco, Civiche Raccolte d'Arte Applicata

Avori 114

Ivory;metal (hinges;crown (later));wood (intarsia)

Height: 710mm
Width: 425mm
Depth: 124mm

Wings, left
Register 1: Musician angel; angel playing the harp. Joachim and Anna bring lambs to be sacrificed, but the High Priest rejects their offerings because they are childless. Birth of the Virgin; midwife bathing the Virgin; bed.
Register 2: angel playing the harp. Joachim and Anna distributing alms. Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.
Register 3: angel playing the psaltery. Joachim in the wilderness with his shepherds. Virgin in the Temple.
Register 4: angel playing the bagpipes. Annunciation of the birth of the Virgin to Joachim by an angel. Virgin weaving.
Register 5: angel playing the triangle. Annunciation of the birth of the Virgin to Anna by an angel. Virgin fed by an angel.
Register 6: angel playing a string instrument. Meeting at the Golden Gate (Meeting of Joachim and Anna). Betrothal of Joseph and the Virgin. Centre panels Standing Virgin and Child; Christ on left arm; Christ in long robe; Christ holding a bird. Crosshatched background with fleur-de-lys pattern.
Wings, right
Register 1: The Virgin enters her house with Anna. Adoration of the Magi. Angel playing a portable organ.
Register 2: Joseph enters his house, holding the flowering stem (?). Presentation in the Temple; maid holding a basket of doves brought as offerings. Angel playing the rebec.
Register 3: Annunciation; vase of lilies; dove of the Holy Spirit. Herod ordering the Massacre of the Innocents. Angel playing a string instrument (lute).
Register 4: Visitation. Massacre of the Innocents. Angel playing the cymbals.
Register 5: Nativity. Flight into Egypt. Angel playing the bagpipes.
Register 6: Annunciation to the Shepherds. Miracle of the Cornfield; peasant; soldiers in armour. Angel playing the double pipes.
Crosshatched background. Tracery. Canopy with intarsia (modern).

Koechlin Number: 0949

Koechlin 1924: France, late 15th century. The fleur-de-lys background could be modern.
Egbert 1929: North Italy, late 15th century.
Vitali 1976: France, late 15th century.
Zastrow 1978: French, 1st half of the 15th century.
Museum's opinion 2009: Northern Italy, 1st half of the 15th century (?).


Three sets of two hinges on either side.

Polychromy - Gilding
Traces of polychromy.

Intarsia forming a diamond pattern in ivory tinted green, non-tinted ivory and wood.

The intarsia canopy is modern.

Brizzolara collection; acquired by the Museum in 1875.

R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 339; II, no. 949.
D. D. Egbert, 'North Italian Gothic Ivories in the Museo Cristiano of the Vatican Library', in Art Studies 7 (1929), pp. 168-207 [p. 194, fig. 45].
A. Ottino della Chiesa, 'Gli avori delle collezioni lombarde alla mostra di Zurigo', in Bolletino d'Arte, XXXIV (1949), p. 151.
L. Vitali, Avori gotici francesi (Milan, 1976), no. 42.
O. Zastrow, Museo d'arti applicate: gli avori (Milan, 1978), no. 45, pl. 109-137.
P. Williamson and G. Davies, Medieval Ivory Carvings 1200-1550 (London, 2014), in relation to no. 175.


© Civiche Raccolte d'Arte Applicata del Castello Sforzesco, Milano.
Photographs Saporetti Immagini d'arte, Milano.

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