The Judgment of Solomon

11th century
Ivory book cover
Provenance: Abbey of St.-Denis, France
The Louvre, Paris

This is the well-known story of the two women who each claimed a baby was her child (I Kings 3:16-28). When Solomon decreed that the baby be split in two only one of the women protested, proving herself the real mother.

In the commentaries on this passage Solomon prefigures Christ while the real mother is the Church (Glossa Ordinaria, II, 695-98). Accordingly the artist places Solomon/Christ on a throne high above the action and separated from it while the mother pleads below. The rock on which the mother stands may represent Peter, of whom Jesus said, "upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18).

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Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.