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Polyptych (tabernacle) (Back)

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

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Milan, Castello Sforzesco, Civiche Raccolte d'Arte Applicata

Avori 31

Ivory;metal (hinges);wood (intarsia on the back)

Height: 550mm
Width: 320mm
Depth: 88mm

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. Meeting at the Golden Gate (Meeting of Joachim and Anna).
Register 2: angel playing a portable organ. Joachim in the wilderness with his shepherds. Birth of the Virgin; midwife bathing the Virgin.
Register 3: angel playing the triangle. Annunciation of the birth of the Virgin to Joachim by an angel. Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.
Register 4: angel playing the rebec. Annunciation of the birth of the Virgin to Anna by an angel. Virgin in the Temple.
Centre panels
Standing Virgin and Child; Christ on left arm; Christ in long robe; Christ holding a bird; Virgin holding a fruit in her right hand.
Crosshatched with fleur-de-lys pattern.
Wings, right
Register 1: Virgin weaving. Nativity. Angel playing the flute.
Register 2: Betrothal of Joseph and the Virgin. Annunciation to the Shepherds. Angel playing the rebec.
Register 3: Annunciation; dove of the Holy Spirit. Adoration of the Magi. Angel playing the bagpipes.
Register 4: Visitation. Presentation in the Temple. Angel playing a string instrument.
Crosshatched background. Tracery.Inscription in gold on the base: 'SALVE REGINA MISERICORDIE'.

Koechlin Number: 0947

Koechlin 1924: French, late 15th century. Original pieces mixed with later restorations.
Egbert 1929: North Italy (Milan?), late 15th century.
Vitali 1976: French, late 14th century.
Zastrow 1978: early 15th century, partly French (?). Restored but difficult to prove which parts.
Karlsruhe 1999: Northern Netherlands, 15th century.
Museum's opinion 2009: Northern Italy, 1st half of 15th century (?).


Three sets of two hinges on either side (modern).

Polychromy - Gilding
Extensive gilding and polychromy (blue, green).

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

Object Condition
Missing: crown and ivory base (modern).

The ivory ball crowning the canopy is modern.

Giuseppe Bossi collection, Milan; acquired by the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan in 1817; on loan from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera di Milano to the Museum since 1864.

J. O. Westwood, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Fictile Ivories in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1876), Appendix, p. 367.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 339; II, no. 947; III, pl. CLXV.
D. D. Egbert, 'North Italian Gothic Ivories in the Museo Cristiano of the Vatican Library', in Art Studies 7 (1929), pp. 168-207 [p. 193, fig. 44].
G. Nicodemi, 'Avori del Castello Sforzesco', in Città di Milano (January 1929), p. 14.
G. Belloni, Il Castello Sforzesco di Milano (Milan, 1966), no. 100.
M. Valsecchi, Tesori in Lombardia: avori e oreficerie (Milan, 1973), p. 92.
O. Zastrow, 'Avori', in Capolavori di arte decorativa nel Castello Sforzesco (Milan, 1975), p. 159.
L. Vitali, Avori gotici francesi (Milan, 1976), no. 41.
O. Zastrow, Museo d'arti applicate: gli avori (Milan, 1978), no. 44, pl. 97-108.
Mittelalterliche Elfenbeinarbeiten aus der Sammlung des Badischen Landesmuseums Karlsruhe, ed. by K.-G. Beuckers (Karlsruhe, 1999), pp. 87, 89, fig. 60.
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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