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The Salerno Ivories – re-photographed

Changing Perspective

The extreme diagonal and lateral views of the plates reveal not only the tusk’s convex curve but also the varying height of the relief (8 mm in average), as well as the complex layers and intersections. The plasticity of the figures, which overtower the relief ground in some parts with more than half of their body volume, is again being emphasized by the variations of light and shade.
In particular in the New Testament depictions like “The Visitation / The Three Wise Men before Herod“, the different room depths and the staggered arrangement of figures and architectures are being showcased by the camera’s extreme perspective. The stage-like relief boxes in which the Biblical scenes are set, allow a closer examination of the figures‘ profiles and their sight lines.
By focusing either on the front or the back of the relief plate, the photographer Roberto Sigismondi adds special features to the composition. For these photographs, he used a medium format digital camera and a macro lens (4/120 mm) with a long focal distance, mostly with a 22 aperture. The distance to the object was about one meter resulting in a small focus depth. So, he could create real ivory „portraits“.


“Moses Receiving the Law on Mount Sinai“, 8,9 x 11,4 cm, KHI inv. no. 613830

“Moses Receiving the Law on Mount Sinai“, 8,9 x 11,4 cm, KHI inv. no. 613831

“The Expulsion from Paradise / The Labours of Adam and Eve”, 10,7-11 x 21,9 cm, KHI inv. no. 613765

„The Sacrifice of Isaac / God Blesses Abraham”, 10,2-10,3 x 24,2 cm, KHI inv. no. 613807

“Renewal of the Covenant with Isaac / Jacob and Rebekah“, 10,1-10,3 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613814

“Renewal of the Covenant with Isaac / Jacob and Rebekah“, 10,1-10,3 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613813

“Visitation / The Three Wise Men Visit Herod“, 24,3 x 14-14,3 cm, KHI inv. no. 613836

“Visitation / The Three Wise Men Visit Herod“, 24,3 x 14-14,3 cm, KHI inv. no. 613837

“Nativity / The Flight into Egypt“, 24,5 cm x 13-13,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613857

“Nativity / The Flight into Egypt “, 24,5 x 13-13,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613856

“Nativity / The Flight into Egypt“, 24,5 x 13-13,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613852

“Nativity“, detail: Mary, KHI inv. no. 613853




© KHI in Florence | 06.08.2020 12:48:30