A & A spacer courtauld institute of art
quick search advanced search browse temp folder

Opening Virgin triptych (Vierge ouvrante); Boubon Virgin (Vierge de Boubon) (Front (closed))

Opening Virgin triptych (Vierge ouvrante); Boubon Virgin (Vierge de Boubon) (Front (closed))
enlarge image zoom image


Front (closed)

Front (closed)

Front (closed)

Back (closed)

Back (open)

Detail, front (open)

Detail, front (open)

Detail, front

Front (open)

Front (open)



Repository Institution

To purchase an image

Baltimore, Walters Art Museum

Inv. 71.152

Ivory;iron (hinges)

Height: 435mm
Width: 281mm (open)
Depth: 98mm (closed); 64mm (open)
Weight: 4480g

Seated Virgin holding Christ enclosed in a quatrefoil; Christ making a blessing gesture; Christ holding an orb; chalice and Tables of the Law symbolising the New and the Old Covenant; patterned jewelled hem of the Virgin's robe.
Wing, left
Register 1: standing angel.
Register 2: Christ before Pilate.
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; sun and moon.
Register 2: angels holding a quatrefoil 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).
Register 3: Entombment (Anointing of Christ's body). 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: standing Christ and two angels (Ascension?).
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.

Koechlin Number: 0009

Koechlin 1924: France, 2nd quarter of the 13th century (?).
Radler 1990: c. 1200.
Sandron 1993: 'parts of the wings could be genuine.
Detroit 1997: French (Ile-de-France or Paris), probably 1750-1780. The ivory was dated to 1020-1220 AD in calibrated years (95% possibility) or 1030-1150 AD (68% possibility). Old ivory seems thus to have been used. Does not fully trust radiocarbon dating.
Holbert 1997-1998: Central France, c. 1200-1225.
Museum's opinion 2010: French (Burgundy; Sens?), c. 1180-1250.


Four original iron hinges (broken).

Carved in the round. Back of the centre panel flat and smooth.

Object Condition
Missing: upper part of the left wing (left half of the Virgin's face and angel on the inside); left side of the head of Christ on the outside (replaced); left foot of the Virgin with the drapery covering it (replaced); on the inside, lower half of Mark, the first evangelist on the left (replaced).
Christ's right hand may have been restored (outside of wings). The upper part of the right wing broke and was reattached. Head of the Virgin artificially aged on the front by the carving of scratches on all sides to imitate cracks, especially at the joins on the outside edges.
Lost pieces of ivory around the hinges.

Related to three other 'Vierges ouvrantes' (Paris, Musée du Louvre; Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Rouen, Musée des Antiquités).

Wings: Priory of the Convent of Boubon, Cussac, near Limoges (Haute-Vienne; France, Central) in 1789; Anne Hugonneau, Convent of Boubon; Jean Hugonneau-Beaufet, Saint-Mathieu, from 1826, by inheritance; Pierre Hugonneau-Beaufet, Dournazac, from 1839, by gift; Pierre Hugonneau-Beaufet's niece, by inheritance; Sailly, Limoges, from 1897, by inheritance; Lavergne, Abjat, from 1897, by gift.
Centre panel: Priory of the Convent of Boubon, Cussac, near Limoges (Haute-Vienne; France, Central) in 1789; Chaperon, caretaker of the Convent of Boubon, ca. 1792; Chaperon's daughter, wife of Duvoisin, by inheritance; Antonin Duvoisin, by inheritance; Lavergne, Abjat, by gift. From 1897, wings and central panel were joined: Jacques Seligmann collection, Paris, ca. 1900; collection of Sir Thomas Gibson-Carmichael, London; sold, Christie's, London, 12 May 1902, lot 20: bought by George Harding, London; bought by Henry Walters in 1903; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.

E. Didron, 'Les Images ouvrantes', in Annales archéologiques, 27 (1870-1872), pp. 107-109 (pp. 108-109).
A. Lecler, 'La Vierge ouvrante de Boubon', in Bulletin de la Société archéologique et historique de Limousin, 36 (1888), pp. 204-241 (p. 241).
Baron de Verneilh, 'La Vierge ouvrante de Boubon: découverte de la seconde partie', in Bulletin de la Société archéologique et historique de Limousin, 46 (1898), p. 254.
Exposition rétrospective de l'art français des origines à 1800, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Petit Palais, 1900, no. 50.
A. Maskell, Ivories (Connoisseurs Library), (London, 1905), pp. 171, 384.
J. Clément, La Représentation de la Madone à travers les âges (Paris, 1909), p. 39.
A. Fabre, 'Les Vierges ouvrantes', in Notre-Dame, 1 (1911), pp. 54ff.
J. Sarrète, Vierges ouvertes, Vierges ouvrantes, et la Vierge ouvrante de Palau-del-Vidre' (Lézignan-Corbières, 1913), pp. 40, 85-87.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 52; II, no. 9; III, pl. IV.
L. Grodecki, Ivoires français (Paris, 1947), p. 81.
A. Schmid, 'Die Schreinmadonna von Cheyres', in Lebendiges Mittelalter. Festgabe für Wolfgang Stammler (Freiburg, 1958), p. 155.
M. Vloberg, 'Vierges ouvrantes: Sanctuaires et pèlerinages', in Bulletin du Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 30 (1963), pp. 25ff.
M. and R. Blancher, Recherches sur la Vierge de Boubon (Paris, 1972).
C. Baumer, 'Die Schreinmadonna', in Marian Library Studies, 9 (1977), pp. 237ff.
D. Gaborit-Chopin, Ivoires du Moyen Age (Freiburg, 1978), p. 134.
D. Sandron, 'La Sculpture en ivoire au début du XIIIe siècle: d'un monde à l'autre', in Revue de l'Art, 102 (1993), pp. 48-59 (fig. 6).
G. Radler, Die Schreinmadonna 'Vierge ouvrante' von den bernhardinischen Anfängen bis zur Frauenmystic im Deutschordensland, Frankfurter Fundamente der Kunstgeschichte, vol. VI (Frankfurt, 1990), pp. 203-209.
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, pp. 285-289.
K. Holbert, 'The Vindication of a Controversial Early Thirteenth-Century Vierge Ouvrante in the Walters Art Gallery', in The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 55-56 (1997-1998), pp. 101-121.


Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

All images on this website are made available exclusively for scholarly and educational purposes and may not be used commercially.

spacer spacer spacer spacer
Please remember to acknowledge any use of the site in publications and lectures as: 'Gothic Ivories Project at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, www.gothicivories.courtauld.ac.uk', followed by the date you accessed the site.