Byzantine / Plaque with the Crucifixion and the Stabbing of Hades / mid-10th centuryByzantine
Plaque with the Crucifixion and the Stabbing of Hades
mid-10th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Anatolian; Byzantine
Creator Name-CRT: Byzantine
Title: Plaque with the Crucifixion and the Stabbing of Hades
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 934
Creation End Date: 966
Creation Date: mid-10th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Ivories
Materials and Techniques: ivory
Dimensions: 5 x 3 1/2 in. (12.7 x 8.9 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 17.190.44
Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

This Byzantine depiction of the Crucifixion emphasizes Christ's victory over death. Christ's body is shown limply attached to the cross, his arms bent at the elbows and his legs turned, pushing his hip slightly outward. His head falls forward against his left shoulder. The Virgin and Saint John the Baptist mourn his passing, and underneath the foot support, the three soldiers divide Christ's seamless garment.

These figures are frequently portrayed as witnesses to Christ's sacrifice for humankind. The presence of the bearded reclining man stabbed by the base of the cross, however, is unique among surviving Byzantine representations of the Crucifixion. Depicted as a defeated and subdued warrior, this figure personifies Hades, the Classical ruler of the underworld, the abode of the dead. In this case, the cross signifies both the weapon with which Christ's Crucifixion wins man's salvation and a victory standard. The impact of this message is brilliantly conveyed through the simplicity of the composition, which is marked by large areas of uncarved ivory underneath the architectural canopy. The resulting shallow space creates a dramatic stage for the figures, whose elongated bodies are articulated by the finely chiseled folds of their classically inspired drapery.

AMICA ID: MMA_.17.190.44
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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