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Work Side part of a a diptych wing in five parts: The Miracles of Christ

Department of Decorative Arts: Early Middle Ages

Partie latérale d'un feuillet de diptyque en cinq parties : Guérison de l'hémorroïsse, du paralytique, du possédé

© 1985 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
Early Middle Ages

Bardoz Marie-Cécile

This plaque was originally the side part of a large Christian ivory diptych wing in five parts. The three scenes represented depict The Miracles of Christ. These ivory reliefs are an example of the style of Roman ivory carvers active in the early years of the 5th century, a time when the references to "classic" ancient art were still very present despite the progressive disappearance of spatial rendition.

The Miracles of Christ

The plaque depicts three miraculous healings of Christ. The top part shows the healing of the Bleeding Woman. Knealing, the woman touches the edge of Christ's cloak (Matthew, IX, 20-22; Luke, VIII, 43-48). Beneath we see the Paralytic blessed by Christ going out towards the left and carrying his bed away on his shoulders (Matthew, IX, 2-7). The bottom section represents the healing of the Possessed: Christ stands turned towards a wild-looking possessed man while in front of him three swine, whose bodies he has ridden of the devil, throw themselves into water (Luke, VIII, 27-33).

A fragment of a diptych wing in five parts

The fragment was originally one of the side parts of a diptych wing in five parts. This object was composed of one large center plaque, surrounded by four narrower side plaquettes. Several other fragments from this same diptych have been identified. The other side part is in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin and another plaque representing the Adoration of the Magi, formerly kept in the cathedral of Nevers, is now on deposit at the latter town's museum. It is probable that the plaque in Munich depicting the Ascension formed one of the center parts.

A Roman ivory of the 5th century

The plaque, sawed into three parts at a later date, is sculpted in bas-relief. The stiff attitudes of the characters, the classic drapery, the squat bodies, the youthful, beardless face of Christ, all these details indicate that this work was produced in the workshops of Roman ivory carvers of the early 5th century. They betray the enduring influence of the "classic" esthetic of Antiquity.


Catalogue de l'exposition Karl der Grosse und Papst Leo III in Paderborn, Paderborn, Diözesanmuseum, 1999, n X 5 (G. Bühl).

Gaborit-Chopin Danielle, "Les trois fragments d'ivoire de Paris, Berlin et Nevers", Byzantine East, Latin West. Art-Historical Studies in Honor of Kurt Weitzmann, 1995, Princeton, pp. 49-56.

Catalogue des collections du département des Objets d'art : Gaborit-Chopin Danielle, Les ivoires médiévaux, Paris, RMN, 2003, n 1.

Technical description

  • Rome (vers 400)

    Partie latérale d'un feuillet de diptyque en cinq parties : Guérison de l'hémorroïsse, du paralytique, du possédé

  • Ivoire

    H. : 19,70 cm. ; L. : 7,90 cm. ; Pr. : 0,80 cm.

  • Ancienne collection Bastard, DaguerreAcquisition 1926 , 1926

    The Healing of the Bleeding Woman, of the Paralytic, of the Possessed

    OA 7876, OA 7877, OA 7878

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Room 501

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