Ivory Relief of the Crucifixion
This meticulously carved ivory relief, most likely produced by Hispano-Filipino or Sino-Portuguese artists, depicts the Crucifixion where a Roman Centurio stabs Jesus Christ with his lance. The iconography is a copy of an engraving by the Flemish artist Jan Sadeler, whose family was one of the most successful dynasties of engravers that dominated Northern European printmaking in the 16th and 17th centuries. Sadeler’s engraving of the Crucifixion with two thieves’ dates to 1582 and is itself based on an earlier drawing, which no longer survives, by the Flemish painter Maerten de Vos.
Since the late 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese patrons imported ivories carved with Christian imagery from their overseas territories. In particular, the distinctive integrally carved reeded frame, the inclusion of haloes and the almond shaped eyes in this ivory plaque are all characteristic of the Hispano-Philippine school of ivories.
There is an almost identical ivory relief made by an unidentified Hispano-Philippine artist during the 16th or 17th century held in Capilla de la Vera Cruz in Salamanca.1
1. See, “The piercing with the spear”, Project on the Engraved Sources of Spanish Colonial Art, accession date: 31st March, 2020.