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Complete set of 6 writing tablets and 2 covers, with case and stylus (frise d'arcatures; plaquettes; tablettes à écrire)

Complete set of 6 writing tablets and 2 covers, with case and stylus (frise d'arcatures; plaquettes; tablettes à écrire)
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Tablet 2

Tablet 1





Secular. Courtly love.

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Namur, Musée provincial des Arts anciens du Namurois-Trésor d'Oignies (TreM.a). Coll. Fondation Roi Baudouin. Dépôt à la Société archéologique de Namur

Inv. 29

Ivory;red wax;gauffered and incised leather (case);steel (stylus);parchment (strips);silver ink

Height: 84mm
Width: 47mm (each tablet); case
Depth: 20mm (all together)
Weight: 86g (all tablets)

Tablet 1: Meeting of lovers (courting couple); offering of the heart; youth kneeling before a lady; lady piercing his heart with an arrow.
Tablet 2: Hawking party; youth with a hawk on his wrist; youth chucking his lover under the chin; lady holding a dog.
Pointed trefoils.
Front: Tristan and Iseult conversing; king Mark in the tree; fountain reflecting king Mark's face. Upper part: lion and hybrid.
Back: lady and nimbed monk (?); ladies and youths conversing.
Sides: hybrids.

Koechlin Number: 1161-1162

Koechlin 1924: French, mid 14th century.
Paris 1981: Paris, mid 14th century.
Lalou 1989: mid 14th century.
Bousmanne 2002: French, mid 14th century.


Polychromy - Gilding
Traces of polychromy (including on the case, according to Koechlin).

The six inside tablets have recessed front and back. The two outer tablets do not have a recessed back.

Only the two outer tablets, forming the 'binding' of the ensemble are sculpted on their external side. The other six tablets had one side covered with a thin layer of red wax which still partially survives. Traces of writing are still visible: 'Amour me fait souvent [...] Désir [...]'. The tablets are linked to each other thanks to small strips of parchment glued on the back at an unknown date.

Said to have belonged to Jeanne d'Harcourt, who married in 1393 Guillaume II, count of Namur (r. 1391-1418). Treasury of the Saint-Aubain cathedral, Namur; given to the Société archéologique de Namur in 1859, through an exchange.

A. Dasnoy, Musée des Arts anciens du Namurois. Moyen Age et Renaissance. Guide sommaire et provisoire (Namur, s. d.), no. 29.
Soc. Art ancien en Belgique (Bruges, s.d.), pl. XIV.
E. del Marmol, 'Tablettes en ivoire avec leur étui de cuir', in Annales de la Société archéologique de Namur, vol. 8 (1863-1864), pp. 221-225, 425-427.
E. Viollet-Le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l'époque Carolingienne à la Renaissance (1871), II, pp. 156-158.
A. Béquet, Le Château de Montaigle (Namur, 1901), p. 37.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, pp. 411, 433, 436, 441; II, no. 1161-1162; III, pl. CXCV.
Hopel, in Annales du Congrès de la Fédération archéologique et historique de Belgique (1938), p. 72.
Les Fastes du Gothique: le siècle de Charles V, ed. by F. Baron, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Grand Palais, 1981, no. 155.
Namur, le site, les hommes, de l'époque romaine au XVIIIe siècle (Brussels, 1988), p. 88.
E. Lalou, 'Les tablettes de cire médiévales', in Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes 147 (1989), pp. 123-140 [no. 14, p. 139].
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, pp. 237, 238.
B. Bousmanne, 'A propos d'un carnet à écrire en ivoire du 14e siècle conservé à la Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique', in Als Ich can. Liber Amicorum in Memory of Prof. Dr. Maurits Smeyers (Paris-Leuven-Dudley, MA, 2002), pp. 165-202.
R. Didier and J. Toussaint, Sculptures, series Guide du visiteur du Musée provincial des Arts anciens du Namurois 5 (Namur, 2004), p. 21.
Le Roi Arthur. Une Légende en devenir, exhibition catalogue, Rennes, Les Champs Libres, 2008, p. 91.
S. Vandenberghe, Ivory in Bruges: Treasures from museums, churches and monasteries, exhibition catalogue, Bruges, 2010, p. 12.
L. Lam, 'Tablettes à écrire, étui et stylet', in Dialogue avec l'invisible. L'art aux sources de l'Europe. Oeuvres d'exception issues de la communauté française de Belgique, dir. by J. Toussaint, coll. Monographies du Musée provincial des Arts anciens du Namurois, 46 (Namur, 2010), pp. 316-321.


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