“This plaque probably once served as the side panel of a small, luxuriously crafted box made for a church. The decorative animal and floral motifs on the border were originally inlaid with gold. The animated carving in the center shows two scenes from the life of Christ. At the left, Christ appears after his resurrection to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They do not recognize him, but invite him, with bold gestures, to dine with them. At the right, the three have supper within the town walls of Emmaus, and it is there, in the breaking of the bread, where Christ’s identity is revealed”.
Date: ca. 850–900
Geography: Made in northern France
Medium: Elephant ivory
Dimensions: Overall: 4 9/16 x 9 1/4 x 1/4 in. (11.5 x 23.5 x 0.6 cm)
Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1970
Accession Number: 1970.324.1
“Among the finest ivory carvings in the Cloisters collection, this plaque depicts Christ’s appearance to two of his disciples after his Resurrection. Christ, who is distinguished by his halo, meets the disciples along the road to the town of Emmaus, near Jerusalem. As described in the Gospel of Luke (24:13–35), although not recognizing Christ, they urge him to stay in town with them. Once within Emmaus, they finally recognize him as he breaks bread for their shared evening meal. Judging from the horizontal format and the recesses along the top edge to accommodate hinges, this plaque once served as the back panel of a small coffret. Originally, the recessed images of birds and flowers in the border were filled with gold foil”.