Ivory triptych with the arms of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter


British Museum

British Museum

The triptych is made from elephant ivory. The Coronation of the Virgin is depicted in the centre panel, set above the Crucifixion. St Peter and St Stephen are represented on the left wing, and St Paul and St Thomas Becket on the right.The triptych was made for John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter (1327-69), whose arms are carved into the right and left spandrels of the arches which contain St Stephen and St Thomas Becket. It is one of a number of works in ivory associated with Grandisson, and unique in that they bear the coat of arms of their patron.John de Grandisson's early career was quite cosmopolitan. He rose to prominence under the Curia (the papal court) at Avignon and was consecrated as bishop of Exeter in 1327 by Pope John XXII (reigned 1316-34). Arriving in England the following year, he remained committed to his diocese for the rest of his life. He was a man of education, taste and influence. He was responsible for major works at Exeter, including the building of the Cathedral's nave. During his life he demonstrated a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and Saints Peter, Paul, Stephen and Thomas Becket, as reflected here and in the decorative schemes which survive at Exeter Cathedral.

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  • Title: Ivory triptych with the arms of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter
  • Date Created: 1330/1340
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 238.00mm; Width: 50.00mm (side leaf); Width: 101.00mm (central leaf); Width: 50.00mm (side leaf); Width: 206.00mm (open); Width: 102.00mm (closed, including hinges); Depth: 17.00mm (open); Depth: 35.00mm (closed, including handles)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: coronation of virgin; soldier; saint/martyr; heraldry; crucifixion; flower; architecture
  • Registration number: 1861,0416.1
  • Production place: Made in England
  • Period/culture: Late Medieval
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Webb, John. Previous owner/ex-collection Soltykoff, P


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