Watch and Listen

Ivory Pietà

Sculpted by a 15th-century Rhenish-Mosan ivory-maker, this Pietà invites us to explore the sensitivity of a pivotal era that placed increasing importance on human emotions and their representation.

Circa 1400-1450
Rhin-Meuse (?)
21 x 16 x 12 cm

Narrated by Dr. Fabienne Fravalo, Curator of the Decorative Arts Collection

"A privileged pious theme in the late Middle Ages, this ivory Pietà or Virgin of Pity conveys a subtle sense of emotion. Mary’s face, contemplating the dead Christ, expresses a restrained sadness, and in a gesture of maternal compassion, she covers her son’s bare hips with a section of her cape, as he lies across her lap. Carved in the round from an elephant tusk of exceptional size, with a diameter of over 16 cm, this piece has a notch on the reverse side and several holes suggesting that it was originally attached to a crucifix and played a part in a narrative dedicated to the Passion of Christ."