The Salerno Ivories – re-photographed

An illustrated Bible made of Ivory

The ivory plates were created in Amalfi or Salerno in the 11th/12th century. Today, they are located in the Salerno Museum of the Diocese. They are divided into two registers and depict scenes from the Bible. Fifteen plates are dedicated to narrations from the Old Testament. Each of them shows two scenes that are positioned next to each other in a horizontal format. The scenes from the New Testament are placed on top of each other in a vertical format. In Salerno, though, the cycle of images is not complete. Reliefs in the collections of the Louvre in Paris, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and in the Museum of the Applied Arts in Budapest were identified as part of the “Paliotto di Salerno”. Today, the ivory plates are exhibited in vitrines and were therefore taken out of their original context. Art historians came up with different theories about their original medieval form and compilation. Several significant suggestions for the reconstruction were made: Rohault de Fleury interpreted the plates as an antependium (1881), Hempel as a throne (1960), Carucci as a reliquary (1972), Braca also as an antependium (1994), Bergmann as the doors of an iconostasis (1980) and dell’Acqua as a throne (2015).

“The Creation of Plants / The Creation of Sun, Moon and Stars“, 10,1-10,4 x 21,9 cm, KHI inv. no. 613748

“God Closes the Door of the Ark / The Dove Returns to the Ark“, 9,8-9,9 x 22,2 cm, KHI inv. no. 613774

“The Drunkenness of Noah / The Tower of Babel “, 10,5-10,7 x 24 cm, KHI inv. no. 613792

“Renewal of the Covenant with Isaac / Jacob and Rebekah“, 10,1-10,3 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613810

“Jacob’s Dream / Moses and the Burning Bush“, 9,6 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613816

“Visitation / The Three Wise Men Visit Herod“, 24,3 x 14-14,3 cm, KHI inv. no. 613833

“The Presentation of the Child in the Temple / The Miracle at Cana“, 24,7 x 13,5-13,9 cm, KHI inv. no. 613865

“Baptism / Transfiguration“, 24,6 x 13,2 cm, KHI inv. no. 613873

“The Calling of the Disciples Peter and Andrew / The Healing of the Dropsical, the Blind and the Lame“, 24 x 12,1-12,4 cm, KHI inv. no. 613884

“Samaritan Woman at the Well / The Raising of Lazarus /Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem“, 24,3 x 12,4-12,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613890

“The Healing of the Blind / Women at the Tomb“, 24,5 x 12,2-12,7 cm, KHI inv. no. 613907

“Ascension”, 23,4 x 12,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613942


“The Presentation of the Child in the Temple / The Miracle at Cana“, 24,7 x 13,5-13,9 cm, KHI inv. no. 613865

© KHI in Florence | 04.12.2021 18:30:17