Diptych leaf with scenes from the Passion of the Christ, Paris, France, 1250/70. Ivory with traces of paint and gilding, 32.6 x 13 x .8 cm. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, bequest of Henry Walters, 1931, 71.157
This is the left leaf of one of the earliest known Gothic ivory diptychs; the fragmentary remains of the right leaf are in the Musée de Cluny, Paris. The size of the panel, with a width that far exceeds 4.33 inches, indicates that it was taken from a Savanna elephant tusk. The artisan compensated for the natural curvature of the tusk by inserting a crescent-shaped piece of ivory to achieve a rectilinear shape. On the reverse, this “operation” is emphasized by a puncture-and-suture decoration, as if the pieces of ivory were sewn together.