Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine

Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine, mid-10th century, Ivory, 16.4×6.5 cm, Dumbarton
Oaks, Washington, DC, USA
http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27455

It was but recently the whole human race celebrated various ten-year periods for the great Emperor with festive banquets. It was but recently we ourselves hymned the conqueror with praises for his twenty years, taking the floor at the Council of God’s ministers. Just now we wove garlands of words also for his thirty years, in the very palace hardly yesterday to crown his sacred head. But today our thought stands helpless, longing to express some of the conventional things, but at a loss which way to turn, stunned by the sheer wonder of the amazing spectacle. Wherever it casts its gaze, whether east or west, whether all over the earth or up to heaven itself, every way and everywhere it observes the Blessed One present with the Empire itself… writes Eusebius PamphiliOn the Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine back in the 4th century AD. Today, celebrating Emperor Constantine’s Name-Day, I present you a Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine from the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and wish every person named Constantine or Constantina… Health, Happiness, and Prosperity! http://archive.eclass.uth.gr/eclass/modules/document/file.php/SEAD260/%CE%95%CF%85%CF%83%CE%AD%CE%B2%CE%B9%CE%BF%CF%82%2C%20Life%20of%20Constantine%20%28trans.%20Averil%20Cameron%20-%20Stuart%20Hall%29.pdf

Emperor Constantine is often described as the most important emperor of Late Antiquity. His political and military acumen, foresight, and sagacity mark his rule as a significant pivot point between Ancient History and the Middle Ages. His reign was eventful and brutal, but his momentous decisions created a whole new world for Europe and parts of the Eastern Mediterranean… He legalized and supported Christianity, and he founded the “New Rome,” mythical Constantinople, the city that ruled supreme in beauty, and power, for a thousand years! Emperor Constantine, while alive, was revered and feared at the same time. He was the greatest of statesmen… he became a Saint of the Christian faith, and a shining example for Emperors to come into the world! https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/constantine

Originally in the Collection of the famed connoisseur of European paintings and of objects of fine art from many cultures, Count Grigory Sergeievich Stroganoff (1829-1910) of Rome, Paris, and St Petersburg, the Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine entered the Dumbarton Oaks Collection in 1947. The small ivory representation of a Saint dressed in Imperial attire, a loros wrapped around his body and a crown with pendilia, is identified with Emperor/Saint Constantine I (208?-337 AD). Along with his mother St. Helena, according to John Hanson of Dumbarton Oaks, also dressed in royal robes, these saints were often shown flanking a representation of the True Cross. In all probability, this is the case for the Dumbarton Oaks Ivory panel. It was the left-wing of a precious triptych..  http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27455

Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine (detail), mid-10th century, Ivory, 16.4×6.5 cm, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, USA
http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27455

There were no less than eleven Byzantine Emperors by the name of Constantine, the number rising to twenty-two if children and relatives with little or no independent power were added to the list. They all wanted to connect with the Empire’s founder and share his legacy. It is perhaps for this reason that the saint’s features resemble, as stated by John Hanson, the facial features of early 10th century Byzantine Emperors, the time when the Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine was created. If the identity of the emperor was specifically Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, the resemblance creates a complex sign of authority and sanctity, aligning the living emperor with his imperial namesake. https://www.persee.fr/doc/numi_0484-8942_2005_num_6_161_2594 and http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27455

For a Student Activity on the Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine, please… Check HERE!

Good Friday – Μεγάλη Παρασκευή

Book cover with a silver-gilt Spanish setting of a Byzantine Ivory Crucifixion, 10th century (ivory); late 11th century (setting), silver-gilt with pseudo-filigree, glass, crystal, and sapphire cabochons, ivory on wood support, Overall: 26.4 × 21.9 × 2.5 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464015

Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon a Tree. He who is King of the Angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heaven in clouds is wrapped in mocking purple. He who freed Adam in the Jordan receives a blow on the face. The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The Son of the Virgin is pierced by a lance. We worship your Sufferings, O Christ. Show us also your glorious Resurrection. (Good Friday – Μεγάλη Παρασκευή Twelfth Antiphon – plagal fourth mode) http://www.hchc.edu/assets/files/CD/All_Creation_Trembled_ebook.pdf

Σήμερον κρεμᾶται ἐπὶ ξύλου ὁ ἐν ὕδασι τὴν γῆν κρεμάσας. Στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν περιτίθεται ὁ τῶν Ἀγγέλων Βασιλεύς. Ψευδῆ πορφύραν περιβάλλεται ὁ περιβάλλων τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐν νεφέλαις. Ῥάπισμα κατεδέξατο ὁ ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ ἐλευθερώσας τὸν Ἀδάμ. Ἥλοις προσηλώθη ὁ Νυμφίος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Λόγχῃ ἐκεντήθη ὁ Υἱὸς τῆς Παρθένου. Προσκυνοῦμέν σου τὰ Πάθη, Χριστέ. Δεῖξον ἡμῖν καὶ τὴν ἔνδοξόν σου Ἀνάστασιν/ (ΜεγάληΠαρασκευή Ἀντίφωνον ΙΒ΄ – ἦχος πλ. δ΄) http://www.hchc.edu/assets/files/CD/All_Creation_Trembled_ebook.pdf

Panel with a Byzantine Ivory Carving of a Crucifixion, 10th century, Ivory, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464015

Byzantine Panels of Ivory Carvings were precious and treasured… just like the Ivory Panel in the MET coming from the Nunnery of Santa Cruz de la Serós in Spain. Set within an amazing gold frame of a Spanish goldsmith, the Byzantine Ivory Crucifixion Panel becomes an important testimony of Western admiration for the artistry of Byzantine craftsmanship, the high esteem accorded such Byzantine objects, and the cultural exchange, the artistic emulation, Byzantine artifacts initiated. The Glory of Byzantium, Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/The_Glory_of_Byzantium_Art_and_Culture_of_the_Middle_Byzantine_Era_AD_843_1261 p. 466

The Crucifixion plaque of Santa Cruz de la Serós originally formed the center of a Byzantine three-paneled icon. Typical to Byzantine Iconography, a Triumphant Christ stands erect on the Cross, his face serene, the eyes closed, his arms effortlessly horizontal, and his feet supported by a projecting platform. The “monumental” Cross in the center, seems to divide the compositional panel into 4 parts. The upper two smaller in size parts exhibit the sun and the moon, and two Angels. Standing under them, flanking the Cross, are the weeping Virgin Mary, and Saint John the Evangelist. They are both depicted holding a Book, an open one by Mary, and a bejeweled closed Book, by Saint John. Could the two represented Books be meant to remind the plaque’s viewer of Christ’s message of hope and redemption? https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464015

The Metropolitan Museum Ivory is associated (by Goldschmidt and Weitzmann) with the Cortona Reliquary of the True Cross Ivory panel, and a collection of Ivory plaques known as the Nikephoros Group. These Ivories display simplicity of composition, stylistic homogeneity, rough but monumental style of carving, broad, blunt facial features, and rather large hands. The Nikephoros Group Ivories are dated to the middle of the 10th century because of an inscription on the back of the Cortona Reliquary of the True Cross Ivory panel mentioning emperor Nikephoros, most certainly the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (963-969). https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/The_Glory_of_Byzantium_Art_and_Culture_of_the_Middle_Byzantine_Era_AD_843_1261 p. 466

The MET Byzantine Ivory of the Crucifixion has been one of the many gifts to the Nunnery of Santa Cruz de la Serós, outside the royal capital of Jaca, which was founded by Queen Felicia (d. 1085), wife of Sancho V Ramírez (r. 1076–94), king of Aragon and Navarre. It entered the Metropolitan Museum Collection in 1917 as a gift from J. Pierpont Morgan. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464015?&exhibitionId=0&oid=464015&pkgids=722 and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464015

A PowerPoint of all artworks presented for the Holy Week in the Greek Orthodox Church, 2022… is HERE!