Triptych with the Enthroned Virgin and Child
Byzantine, 12th century
Gilded bronze, 16 x 11.9 cm
A gilt-bronze triptych, depicting the Enthroned Virgin and Child, and on the wings, St Gregory of Nazanzios, known as St Gregory the Theologian, and St John Chrysostom. The elaborate detail of the decoration of the throne is especially remarkable, and it has been noted that the triptych has a close resemblance to carved ivory examples. Few triptychs in bronze have survived. Small-scale triptychs like this were made for and used in private, personal devotion.
Triptych, gilt bronze, cast and engraved, with a separately cast, later, cornice and base. The method of pinning the triptych to its cornice and base is close to that found on Byzantine ivories.
On the interior: The central panel depicts a nimbed Virgin seated frontally on an elaborate throne and holding the Christ Child on her knees. The throne has robust legs and uprights, with a pierced trellis back; the Virgin's feet rest upon an arcade, and she is seated upon two richly decorated cusions. The Virgin is further identified by the inscription above the throne, 'Mother of God'. Each wing depicts a standing and nimbed bishop saint wearing ecclesiastical vestments and holding in their veiled left hand a Gospel book with a decorated cover. Each figure is identified by their inscriptions. That on the right is one of the Fathers of the Church, St Gregory of Nazianzos, known as St Gregory the Theologian, who gestures to the book with his right hand: that on the left is another of the Fathers of the Church, St John Chrysostom, who raises his right hand in blessing.
On the exterior: Each of the wings is decorated with a ribbed processional cross, at the centre and at the end of each arm is a rosette. Each cross is flanked by the inscription 'Jesus Christ Conquers'. Each wing is later stamped with a shield bearing armorials, possibly those of the Pisani or Riva family of Venice.