First half of the 14th century, Anonymous French Master
Ivory, 12 x 10 cm each
This handy little altar was intended for private devotion and could easily be taken on travels as it is foldable. The preciousness and rarity of the ivory suggests that the owner was a member of the nobility or higher bourgeoisie, though not necessarily a member of the clergy. Franciscans and Dominicans increasingly appealed to lay piety in the thirteenth and fourteenth century. Artists were therefore encouraged to create impressive, concentrated and emotional images such as this, which elicited a response from everybody and were intended to help people to immerse themselves in the life and suffering of Christ. In the lower section the viewer experiences the childhood of Christ (from left to right: Annunciation and Visitation, Birth of Christ, Adoration of the Kings, Presentation in the Temple) and the upper section depicts the individual Stations of the Cross (from left to right: Jesus is scourged, crucified, laid in the tomb, resurrected).