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The Salerno Ivories – re-photographed

Looking at the Backside

The backsides of the ivory carvings give insight into the production phases and the object’s biography. Examples to be mentioned are the compositional sketches in the form of delicate incisions of singular images such as the donkey in “The Flight into Egypt“, the subdivision into two registers, or sketches of the frame in order to calculate the image field. Other plates show rather painterly drafts. Just like the engraved sketches, though, they were not necessarily realized on the front side.
In addition to that, the labels on the back side show museum inventory numbers or indicate that the object was scientifically examined, contextualized and classified. The German labels and the titles derive from the art historian Heinz-Ludwig Hempel from Mainz who engaged himself in the backsides of plates. He interpreted them as parts of a cathedra. These reconstructions were the foundation for a new arrangement of the ivories in 1962 after the former presentation had been dismantled for a restoration campaign.
The presentation of “flatwares“ in museums rarely allow the backside to be seen. Therefore, the photographs make a major contribution to the objects‘ documentation.


Backside of plate “Nativity/ The Flight into Egypt“, 24,5 x 13-13,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613858

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

Backside of plate “The Separation of Light and Dark / The Creation of Angels“, 10,2-10,4 x 22 cm, KHI inv. no. 613747

“The Separation of Light and Dark / The Creation of Angels“, 10,2-10,4 x 22 cm, KHI inv. no. 613742

Backside of plate “The Creation of Plants /The Creation of Sun, Moon and Stars“, 10,1-10,4 x 21,9 cm, KHI inv. no. 613753

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

Backside of plate “God’s Covenant with Noah and his Descendants / Noah Making Wine“, 10,5-10,6 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613791

“God’s Covenant with Noah and his Descendants / Noah Making Wine”, 10,5-10,6 x 24,1 cm, KHI inv. no. 613786

Backside of plate “Noli me tangere / Doubting Thomas“, 24,2 x 11,7-11,9 cm, KHI inv. no. 613925

Backside of plate “Apparition to the Disciples / Pentecost”, 23,9 x 11,5-11,9 cm, KHI inv. no. 613941

Backside of plate “The Healing of the Paralytic at Bethesda / Christ in Limbo“, 23,5 x 11,4-11,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613908

Backside of plate “Mary Magdalena announces the Resurrection of Christ to the Apostles / Jesus on Lake Tiberias“, 23,9 x 11,8-12,3 cm, KHI inv. no. 613931




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Backside of plate “The Healing of the Paralytic at Bethesda / Christ in Limbo“, 23,5 x 11,4-11,5 cm, KHI inv. no. 613908

© KHI in Florence | 21.10.2021 09:43:50