About This Artwork

Germany, Cologne

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

Ivory and gold pigment
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

"Images in Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age" at the Detroit Institute of Arts, March 1, 1997-May 11, 1997 and the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore June 21, 1997-August 31, 1997, cat. 44.

Publication History

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

P. Chevallier, Catalogue des objets d'art et de haute curiosité: Antiques du moyen-âge et de la Renaissance, composante l'importante et précieuse Collection Spitzer (Paris ,1893), no. 95.

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.

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.

Gothic Ivories Project, The Courtauld Institute of Arts:

Ownership History

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

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