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Opening Virgin triptych; known as the 'Vierge ouvrante de Bosc-Guérard' (Back, closed)

Opening Virgin triptych; known as the 'Vierge ouvrante de Bosc-Guérard' (Back, closed)
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Front, open

Front, closed

Religious. Passion.

Repository Institution

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Rouen, Musée Départemental des Antiquités de la Seine-Maritime

Inv. 2001.0.139

Ivory;metal (hinges)

Height: 430mm; 65mm (lower part only only)
Width: 110mm (closed); 55mm (each wing)

Wing, left
Register 1: Christ before Pilate.
Register 2: Carrying of the Cross with the Virgin helping Christ.
Register 3: Flagellation.Lower right corner: saint Mark writing, with his symbol, the lion.
Centre panel
Register 1: Christ in glory; rainbow.
Register 2: angels holding a medallion enclosing the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei); Crucifixion with the Virgin and saint John the Evangelist; figure of the Church (Ecclesia) with a cross and chalice; figure of the Synagogue (Synagoga) holding a broken spear; tables of the Law at her feet.
Register 3: Entombment (Anointing of Christ's body); under an arch, Jonah coming out of the whale.
Lower corners: saint John writing, with his symbol, the eagle; saint Matthew writing, with his symbol, the angel.
Wing, right
Register 1: standing Christ and two angels (Ascension?).
Register 2: Three Holy Women at the Tomb, with angel seated on the tomb; shroud; under an arch, soldier asleep.
Register 3: Noli me Tangere (Christ appearing to saint Mary Magdalene).
Lower left corner: saint Luke writing, with his symbol, the calf.
Base, front: Nativity.
Base sides: standing female figures.

Holbert 1997-1998: early 19th century.
Museum's opinion 2011: 13th-14th century or 2nd quarter of the 19th century.


Two hinges on either side.

Polychromy - Gilding
Extensive traces of polychromy: red, green,

Back of the wings: flat with scoring, as if the surface had been shaved.
Back of the left wing with some carved drapery corresponding to the Virgin's right arm.
Back of the centre panel partly carved like the back of a throne with geometrical patterns. Lower part flat and smooth.
Back of the base smooth and flat but not as deep as the rest of the piece.
Label with inscription: 'Musée Départemental d'Antiquités de Rouen ivoire 9'.
Metal ring at the back of the throne.

Object Condition
The triptych is made of a number of ivory pieces. Back of the base chipped.
The front has the appearance of having once been carved and then shaved to make it flat. There is however no trace of a closing part over the blessing Christ where the face would have been carved.

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). When closed, this piece is anthropomorphic but does not take the chape of the Virgin and Child, like the other pieces.

Said to have been given by an inhabitant of Bosc-Guérard between 1834 and 1836.

Exposition universelle de 1878 à Paris: les Beaux-Arts et les arts décoratifs, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1878.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, pp. 38, 51-52.
Richesses méconnues de l'art religieux ancien, exhibition catalogue, Dieppe, May 1949, p. 22, no. 70.
K. Holbert, 'The Vindication of a Controversial Early Thirteenth-Century Vierge ouvrante in the Walters Art Gallery', in Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 55-56 (1997-1998), pp. 101-121, figs. 11-12.


© cg76 - Musée départemental des Antiquités - Rouen. Photography: Yohann Deslandes.

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