Ivory panel with the Miracle of Cana


British Museum

British Museum

This panel once decorated the cover of a Gospel Book (now in the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt) written and illuminated by a scribe named Liuthard. Liuthard is known to have produced three manuscripts for the French king, Charles II, 'the Bald' (AD 838-77) which helps us to date the panel.The panel depicts Christ's first miracle, the turning of water into wine during a wedding feast at the town of Cana in Galilee. In the first scene Christ and a disciple converse with the Virgin Mary while on the right, in a stacked perspective, servants wait upon guests seated at a table. In the bottom register two attendants pour water from vases on their shoulders into two of the six large amphorae. The story ends with the master of the feast in conversation with Christ. The action takes place under open buildings with pitched roofs on columns with tied-back curtains in the entrances. The action is bordered by superbly carved acanthus leaves, typical of Carolingian ivories.The lively gestures and attitudes of the figures and their placement within architectural settings are a development of the Rheims style, an energetic figural style which derives from illuminated manuscripts such as the Utrecht Psalter, probably produced at the Abbey of Hautvillers, near Rheims. An Anglo-Saxon copy of this manuscript, Harley MS 603, can be seen in the British Library.

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  • Title: Ivory panel with the Miracle of Cana
  • Date Created: 860/870
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 142.00mm; Width: 83.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Subject: marriage at cana; plant
  • Registration number: 1856,0623.20
  • Place: Found/Acquired Germany
  • Period/culture: Carolingian
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Maskell, William