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The Salerno Ivories – re-photographed

Focusing on the Detail

Blow-ups in photography create a proximity to the exhibits that would be impossible on regular display. It liberates details, isolates them and focuses on partial views that might go unnoticed in the total view of the object. It gives importance to details, disguises the visual context, blurs the material and the proportion to the whole. Isolating close-ups and therefore ignoring scale preservation results in a monumentalization of the image. Thus, the little ram in the “Binding of Isaac“ measures only a little bit more than 3 cm and the fishing net in the “Calling of Peter“ has a diameter of about only 4,2 cm. At the same time, the blow-up suggests that being able to see the material properties gives insight into the process of production.
In these enlargements, as in the “Drunkenness of Noah“, traces of reworking or restoration become visible and coarsely carved parts, as in the “Feeding of the Five Thousand”, almost seem grotesque.
Polishing and the appropriate illumination of the relief highlight in particular the ivory’s silky sheen.


“The Sacrifice of Isaac” detail: Ram, KHI inv. no. 613806

“The Drunkenness of Noah”, detail: Jafet, Sem and Ham, KHI inv. no. 613795

“The Feeding of the Multitude“, detail: Apostles dish out Bread, KHI inv. no. 613898

“Women at the Tomb“, detail: two women at the tomb, KHI inv. no. 613910

“The Calling of the Disciples Peter and Andrew“, detail, KHI inv. no. 613884

“Visitation“, detail: Mary and Elizabeth, KHI inv. no. 613834

“Joseph’s Dream“, detail: Angel, 24,2 x 12,8 cm, KHI inv. no. 613847

“Nativity“, detail: Mary, 24,5 x 13- 13,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613854

“The Creation of Light and Darkness”, detail: Dove, 10,2-10,4 x 22 cm, KHI inv. no. 613743

“Jacob’s Dream”, detail, 9,6 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613818

“The Annunciation to the Shepherds“, detail, 23,7 cm x 13,1 -13,6 cm, KHI inv. no. 613860

“The Raising of the Widow’s Son“, detail, 23,9 x 11,5- 11,8 cm, KHI inv. no. 613879




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“Jacob’s Dream”, detail, 9,6 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613818

© KHI in Florence | 21.10.2021 11:08:37