A new medieval website was launched today which aims at including all readily available information on every surviving Gothic ivory, accompanied by at least one image. The Gothic Ivories Project, hosted by The Courtauld Institute of Art, is bringing together the resources of dozens of museums and institutions from Europe and North America.
This online resource allows users to search for ivory objects made in Europe dating from c. 1200-c. 1530, offering information on iconography, provenance, origin, post-medieval repairs and replacements, modern forgeries, and many other aspects. Ultimately, it will be possible to view in one place images and detailed information on over 4,000 items scattered in collections around the world.
“The project has been made possible by the collaboration of numerous institutions”, comments the Project’s director, Professor John Lowden, “but it is not only the major museums that will benefit from this resource. Many Gothic ivories are still in private collections, and the website will enable owners to identify what they have.”
Project manager Dr Catherine Yvard adds, “The support we received from institutions around the world has been astonishing: all major collections have joined us and smaller collections have also been enthusiastic. We are equally interested in including objects in private collections, so as to be as comprehensive as possible. The website will be accessible to all and is designed to welcome collectors and curators as well as students and scholars. As so many Gothic ivories were divided up for sale in the nineteenth century, there is a very real chance of being able to identify what have been thought to be missing parts of a whole. The website makes possible searches by many aspects of content, provenance, function and so on.”
The project has been funded to date primarily through the generosity of Thomson Works of Art Ltd., in memory of Ken Thomson, an enthusiastic collector of ivories.
The last major attempt to catalog gothic ivories came in 1924 when the French scholar Raymond Koechlin published his three-volume study of French Gothic Ivories. He noted 1,328 objects and was illustrated by some 500 images. Since then, many more ivories have surfaced in auction houses as well as private and public collections; valuable articles and catalogues have been written; scientific examination and increasing expertise have all shed more light on these exquisite objects.
Source: Courtauld Institute of Art
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