About This Artwork

German, Cologne

Triptych with Scenes from the Life of Christ, 1350/75

Ivory with traces of gold
25.7 x 17.5 cm (10 1/8 x 6 15/16 in.)

Mr and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1937.827

Images carved in ivory were highly prized devotional tools in the Gothic era. This triptych, with its episodes from the Infancy and Passion of Christ, focuses upon both Christ’s majesty and his human suffering. The depicted scenes are arranged chronologically from left to right, starting at the bottom with the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Presentation in the Temple. The narrative continues on the top with the Road to Calvary, the Crucifixion, and the Noli Me Tangere.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Detroit Institute of Arts, Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, 9 March – 11 May 1997, and the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 22 June – 31 August 1997, cat. 44 (entry by Richard Randall).

Publication History

Léon Palustre and Émile Molinier, La collection Spitzer, vol. I: Les ivoires, etc. (Paris, 1890), p. 47, no. 60.

Raymond Koechlin, Les ivoires gothiques francais, vol. 2 (Paris, 1924), no. 208.

Ian Wardropper and Lynn Springer Roberts, European Decorative Arts in The Art Institute of Chicago, (Chicago, 1991), pp. 11, 15, 16 (ill.).

Richard H. Randall, Jr., The Golden Age of Ivory: Gothic Carvings in North American Collections (Hudson Hills, 1993), pp. 56-57, no. 43, ill, and p. 97, under no. 122.

Charles T. Little, "Gothic Ivory Carving in Germany: in Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, ed. Peter Barnet, exh. cat. Detroit Institute of Arts, 1997), p. 86.

Hartmut Krohm, "Die mittelalterlichen Elfenbeine" in Stadtmuseum Münster. Elfenbein, Alabaster und Porzellan aus der Sammlung des fürstbischöflichen Ministers Ferdinand von Plettenberg und der Freiherren von Ketteler (Kulturstiftung der Länder. Patrimonia 193) (Münster, 2001), pp.22, 24, 29, fig. f0.

Christina Nielsen, ed. Devotion and Splendor: Medieval Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 30, 2 (2004), pp. 10, 57.

Jeremy Warren, Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture. A Catalogue of the Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, vol. 2, Sculptures in Stone, Clay, Ivory, Bone, and Wood (Oxford, 2014), pp. 573-75, under nos. 167 and 168.

Gothic Ivories Project, The Courtauld Institute of Arts:

Ownership History

Frédéric Spitzer (b. 1815 - d. 1890), Paris [see Palustre and Molinier 1890, p. 47, no. 60]; his estate sale, Paris, Chevallier and Mannheim, April 17 - June 16, 1893, no. 95; acquired by Durand-Ruel as agent for Martin A. Ryerson [according to Ryerson's account with Durand-Ruel, copy in curatorial file, and list of his purchases at the Spitzer sale]; Martin A. Ryerson (d. 1932), Chicago; by descent to his widow (d. 1937); bequeathed to the museum.

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