Byzantine / Diptych of the Consul Justinian (one wing of two) / 521Byzantine
Diptych of the Consul Justinian (one wing of two)

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Anatolian; Byzantine
Creator Name-CRT: Byzantine
Title: Diptych of the Consul Justinian (one wing of two)
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 521
Creation End Date: 521
Creation Date: 521
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Ivories
Materials and Techniques: ivory
Dimensions: 13 3/4 x 5 11/16 in. (35 x 14.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 17.190.52
Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Justinian was appointed consul for the East in 521, six years before he became emperor. To celebrate his appointment, he had diptychs, including this one, made for presentation to members of the Senate. Such ivory diptychs were popular in the early Byzantine Empire. This refined, simply carved example announces Justinian's appointment in Latin at the top of each wing, with a running inscription addressed to the senators in an elaborately bordered medallion in the center of each wing. At the four corners of each wing, lions' heads emerge from the centers of lush acanthus leaves. The soft, tactile quality of the acanthus stands in marked contrast to the abstract decorative medallions.

In comparison with other consular diptychs, this example is relatively plain, since it was given to members of the Senate: higher government officials would have received more elaborately carved examples. The fact that three such diptychs presented by Justinian survive is certainly due to the subsequent political importance of the man whose consulship they proclaim.

AMICA ID: MMA_.17.190.52
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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