Choose Category:

Home > Auctions > 23rd May 2017 > Medieval Ivory Corpus Christi

Print page | Email lot to a friend

Back to previous page

Use mousewheel to zoom in and out, click to enlarge
Gallery loading...

LOT 0370

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,470 - 11,840
USD ($) 10,210 - 12,770

20 1/4" (4.1 kg, 51.5cm).

A carved ivory Corpus Christi figure modelled in the round, broad band to the brow, lozengiform socket to the side of the head, elegantly draped robe and loincloth with decorated belt, emaciated body with prominent ribs, vein detailing to the arms, hair in hanks on the shoulders; holes to the feet and hands; mounted on a custom-made stand.

CONDITION REPORT: [Click to show]

Property of a gentleman; from a Mayfair, London, UK, gallery.

Cf. Bailey, A., Massing, J., and Vassallo e Silva, N., Ivories in the Portuguese Empire, Lisbon, 2013. For a similar piece see The Victoria and Albert Museum, accession number A.66-1927.

This ivory was probably made in Sri Lanka or South India for export to Portugal or to be sent to Portugal and Spain's dominions such as Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines; others still entered aristocratic collections and European cabinets of curiosities as curios and collector's pieces. Juana de Cordoba y Aragon, the Duchess of Frias, is known to have owned around fifty such pieces in 1604. Local artists specialising in ivory carving made such pieces, usually under the direction of Portuguese missionaries. Most of them were made as luxury items for export to Europe, although some were used for use in local churches. These pieces, whether made for export or for local use, were devotional objects, but would also have been highly valued as a work of art, partly because ivory was a rare and costly material.

Many colonial ivories were relatively large, a sign of the rich resources available in the territories conquered by the Europeans. The artists were anonymous, and the pieces undated, but the majority were made during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The ivory was often imported to Sri Lanka from Africa, parts of which had also been invaded by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, as the elephant tusks there were more suitable for carving.