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Opening Virgin triptych (Vierge ouvrante) (Front, closed)

Opening Virgin triptych (Vierge ouvrante) (Front, closed)
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Religious. Passion.

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Paris, Musée du Louvre

LP 1143

Ivory;silver (hooks and hinges)

Height: 460mm (max); 385mm (central part)
Width: 117mm (central part); 56-57mm (wings); 110mm (base, max)
Depth: 24-28mm (central part); 62mm (wings)

Seated Virgin and Child; Christ making a blessing gesture; Christ holding an orb; Virgin enthroned.
Wing, left
Register 1: standing angel.
Register 2: Christ before Caiaphas.
Register 3: Carrying of the Cross.
Register 4: Flagellation. Lower right corner: saint Mark writing, with his symbol, the lion.
Centre panel
Register 1: Christ in glory enclosed in a quatrefoil.
Register 2: Medallion enclosing the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei); Crucifixion with the Virgin and saint John the Evangelist; figure of the Church (Ecclesia); figure of the Synagogue (Synagoga); Angels holding the sun and moon.
Register 3: Entombment (Anointing of Christ's body), lion. Lower corners: saint Matthew writing, with his symbol, the angel; saint John writing, with his symbol, the eagle.
Wing, right
Register 1: standing angel.
Register 2: Resurrection of Christ.
Register 3: Three Holy Women at the Tomb, with angel seated on the tomb and two soldiers, one asleep.
Register 4: Noli me Tangere (Christ appearing to saint Mary Magdalene). Lower left corner: saint Luke writing, with his symbol, the calf. Symbols of the Evangelists.
Base, front: Nativity.
Base sides: standing female figures.

Westwood 1876: France, early 14th century.
Molinier 1896: 19th century.
Koechlin 1924: France, 19th century (quoting Molinier).
Gaborit-Chopin 2003 and Museum's opinion 2010: Paris, before 1836.


Back of the wings carved to represent the Virgin and Child.

Object Condition
Head of Christ sculpted separately and glued. Very careful restoration around the hinges.

This opening Virgin belongs to a group of four: K. Holbert argues that the ones in Lyon, Rouen and Paris (Louvre) are copied after the Boubon Virgin (Baltimore), which she considers the only original piece (Holbert 1997-1998).

Collection of Louis Gaspary, former chancelier du consulat de France at Chania, Crete. Acquired in 1836 by the Musée du Louvre at the Gaspary - or Gasparé - sale, 14 January 1836.

M. de Laborde, Notice des émaux, bijoux et objets divers exposés dans les galeries du musée du Louvre (Paris, 1857), no. 867.
Barbier de Montault, 'Iconographie du chemin de la croix', in Annales archéologiques, XX, 1860, pp. 181, 316.
E. Didron, 'Les Images ouvrantes', in Annales archéologiques, XX, 1860, pp. 181 and 316; XXII, 1862, p. 258; XXV, 1865, p. 165; XXVI, 1869, pp. 410, 412, and 420; XXVII, 1870, pp. 51 and 107.
A. Sauzay, Musée de la Renaissance [Musée du Louvre]. Notice des ivoires (Paris, 1863), no. 50.
W. Maskell, Ivories Ancient and Mediaeval in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1872), pp. 383-384.
E. Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l'époque carolingienne à la Renaissance (Paris, 1872-1875), I, pp. 131-135.
J. O. Westwood, Fictile Ivories in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1876), no. 3403-406 ('58.250, 251).
A. Lecler, 'La Vierge ouvrante de Boubon', in Bulletin de la Société archéologique et historique du Limousin, 36, 1889, pp. 241-242.
E. Molinier, Histoire générale des Arts appliqués à l'Industrie. I: Les Ivoires (Paris, 1896), pp. 177-178.
Baron de Verneilh, 'La Vierge ouvrante de Boubon', in Bulletin de la Société archéologique et historique du Limousin, 46, 1900, pp. 259-261.
Les Arts, May 1903, p. 15.
J. Sarrète, Vierges ouvertes, Vierges ouvrantes, et la Vierge ouvrante de Palau-del-Vidre' (Lézignan-Corbières, 1913), pp. 78-79.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, pp. 51-52.
M. and R. Blancher, Recherches sur la Vierge de Boubon (Paris, 1972).
G. Isnard, Le Musée imaginaire du faux (Dammarie-les-Lys, 1980), p. 263, fig.
G. Radler, Die Schreinmadonna 'Vierge ouvrante' von den bernhardinischen Anfängen bis zur Frauenmystic im Deutschordensland, Frankfurter Fundamente der Kunstgeschichte, vol. VI, Frankfurt, 1990, no. 2, pp. 55-58 (with bibliography).
Images in Ivory. Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, ed. by Peter Barnet, exhibition catalogue, Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and Baltimore, The Walters Art Gallery, 1997, no. 83.
K. Holbert, 'The Vindication of a Controversial Early Thirteenth-Century Vierge ouvrante in the Walters Art Gallery', in Journal of the Walters Art Gallery (1997-1998), pp. 101-121, figs. 14-15.
D. Gaborit-Chopin, Ivoires médiévaux, Ve-XVe siècle (Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2003), no. 285.


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