Coronation and Death of the Virgin (V&A)
The Salting Diptych V&A early 14thC
Object Diptych Title The Salting Diptych Date early 14th century Techniques Carved ivory Artist/designer Unknown Place Westminster, England (probably) Dimensions Height21.6cm
Width16.2cm Museum Number A.545-1910
This diptych, named after the person who donated it to the Museum, is one of the comparatively rare Gothic ivories to be unequivocally accepted as English. Thicker than any existing French ivory relief – each leaf measures 2.6cm in depth – the style of the figures of Christ and of the Virgin and Child has traditionally been associated with late 13th and early 14th century work at Westminster and with the Eleanor Crosses erected in the early 1290s to commemorate the death of Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I. There are also parallels with slightly later sculptures, such as the Percy tomb at Beverley (about 1330-1340). The use of the ogee arch and the unusual, monumental form of the individual figures – as opposed to the smaller and more crowded scenes from the Gospels found on French ivories – reinforce the idea that this was produced in England, probably in a court workshop. In effect, the figures have the appearance of small free-standing statues enclosed within niches, or of three-dimensional Northern versions of the full-length figures found in Italian 14th-century painted predella panels.