The Crucifixion

420-430
Ivory panel
7.5 x 9.8 cm.
British Museum, London

This is among the earliest truly narrative images of the Crucifixion, presenting in just four inches of width a wealth of visual details drawn from the gospel accounts: Judas hanging above his money bag, John and Mary, the man berating Jesus, the "King of the Jews" plaque, and Jesus himself, nearly naked and with nails in his palms. The image does provide a few theological nudges – the ironically paired "trees," the bird feeding its young, and perhaps Jesus' erect stance with arms straight out as if he were welcoming the viewer – but these are clearly subordinate to its function as a visual companion to the gospel narratives.

The panel is one of four plaques in the museum which appear to have been affixed to the four sides of a small box.

More of the Crucifixion

Source: British Museum