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Triptych with Scenes from the Life of Christ

Three connected ivory panels carved with scenes from the life of Jesus.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Three connected ivory panels carved with scenes from the life of Jesus.




German, Cologne

About this artwork

Ivory was used to make highly prized devotional objects in the Gothic era. This triptych features scenes from the infancy and Passion of Christ, arranged in a chronological sequence 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 in the top register with the Road to Calvary, Christ on the Cross, and the encounter of Christ and Mary Madgalen after the Resurrection. Such small devotional objects might be kept on a stand or cabinet in a bedroom, ready to be used as a focus for prayer by the layperson who owned them, along with an illuminated Psalter or Book of Hours. The intimate scale and movable wings of the triptych made it easy to store in a chest or to carry from one residence to another as needed. Although Paris has long been recognized as a great center for ivory carving in the Gothic era, recent scholarship has also emphasized the importance of workshops in England, Germany, and Italy—affirming the popularity of the medium throughout medieval Europe. This triptych was most likely made by a master artist and his atelier working in Germany, probably in Cologne.


On View, Gallery 236


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Triptych with Scenes from the Life of Christ


Germany (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Ivory with traces of gold


25.7 × 17.5 cm (10 1/8 × 6 15/16 in.)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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