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Polyptych, 3 registers (wings), openwork panels, ogee arches (tabernacle; ajouré; colonnettes) (Front)

Polyptych, 3 registers (wings), openwork panels, ogee arches (tabernacle; ajouré; colonnettes) (Front)
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Front, open


Back, closed

Front, closed




Back, open




Religious. Life of the Virgin. Passion.

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Bruges, OCMW Sint-Janshospitaal


Ivory;bone or horn;wood (Virgin's crown, later;backing of the centre panel);brass (hinges)

Height: 275mm
Width: 140mm (closed); 360mm (open)
Depth: 60mm (closed); 75mm (open)

Wings, left
Register 1: Birth of the Virgin; midwife bathing the Virgin; bed. Musician angel; angel playing the harp.
Register 2: Annunciation; dove of the Holy Spirit; God the Father; vase of lilies. Angel playing the trumpet.
Register 3: Visitation; trees. Angel playing the rebec.
Centre panel
Seated Virgin and Child; angel crowning the Virgin; Christ standing on the Virgin's right knee; God the Father with papal tiara making a blessing gesture; orb; musician angels standing on the sides of the throne; angel playing the harp; angel playing the trumpet.
Diapered background; diamond shaped pieces inscribed with monogram 'ihs' (Iesus Hominum Salvator).
Wings, right
Register 1: Angel playing the bagpipes. Coronation of the Virgin; angel crowning the Virgin; blessing gesture.
Register 2: Angel playing a string instrument. Death of the Virgin (Dormition); Christ holding the soul of the Virgin; angel; apostles.
Register 3: Angel playing a portable organ. Adoration of Christ Child (Nativity).
Back of the outer left wing
Register 1: Angels holding a coat of arms with the Arma Christi; Instruments of the Passion (Cross, crown of thorns, nails, Flagellation column, whip, spear, sponge).
Back of the outer right wing
Register 1: Christ among the Doctors.
Register 2: resurrected Christ with cross and banner.
Register 3: saint Peter (?).
Openwork tracery; bands of pierced quatrefoils. Brickwork or tiled roof.

Koechlin Number: 0946

Koechlin 1924: France, late 15th century.
Egbert 1929: Flanders, end of 15th century.
Bruges 2010: Flanders (?), 2nd half of the 15th century.
Rotterdam 2012: Southern Netherlands, c. 1440.


Two sets of three hinges on either side.

Polychromy - Gilding
Extensive gilding and polychromy: green glaze (trees; ground), azurite blue (architecture; lining of cloaks, clouds), red (clothes), gold (hair; along the hems; halos; architecture; etc.). IHS monogram written in gold on the background.

Centre panel: the back is decorated with intarsia work in ivory (some pieces tinted green) and wood, lozenges using the 'alla certosina' technique, with a Cross motif in the centre. Three lozenges contain motifs in green-tinted ivory and wood forming eight-pointed stars. Back of the outer wings: six partially polychromed openwork panels (two lost). For detailed description, see above.

Object Condition
Missing: crown of the Virgin (replaced with a later wooden crown), right hand side capital (replaced); two missing panels on the back.

The ivory colonnettes consist of four original pieces. The two missing panels on the back probably showed the Crucifixion and saint Paul (Bruges 2010).

Mentioned in an 1866 inventory of the museum as coming from Sint-Janshospitaal.

R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, pp. 210, 214, 338; II, no. 946; III, pl. CLXIV.
D. D. Egbert, 'North Italian Gothic Ivories in the Museo Cristiano of the Vatican Library', in Art Studies 7 (1929), pp. 168-207 [p. 192, fig. 43].
S. Vandenberghe, Ivory in Bruges: Treasures from museums, churches and monasteries, exhibition catalogue, Bruges, 2010, pp. 20-22.
S. Kemperdick, F. Lammertse, The Road to Van Eyck, exhibition catalogue, Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, 2012, no. 52 (F. Scholten).
P. Williamson and G. Davies, Medieval Ivory Carvings 1200-1550 (London, 2014), in relation to no. 175.


© IRPA-KIK, Brussels.

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