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Statuette with carved base (Side 1)

Statuette with carved base (Side 1)
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Side 2

Secular. Memento mori. Vicissitudes of married life.

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Berlin, Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst

Inv. 8554


Height: 276mm (total)
Width: 82mm (base)

Side 1
Naked female figure.
Base: wild unchained animal (lion?); dancing jester holding a bauble; collared and chained monkey eating a fruit from a basket; fruit trees.
Side 2
Skeleton (Death); vermin; worms.
Base: collared dog; youth unsheathing his sword (Hercules?); monster.
Woven fence and gate. Lattice background on the base.

Koechlin Number: 1245

Koechlin 1924: Eastern or Northern France or Flanders, early 16th century.
Theuerkauff 1986: France (?), possibly 2nd third of the 19th century.
Museum's opinion 2010: France or Netherlands, early 16th century.


Carved in the round.

This piece is by the same workshop as a similar base in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (55.168). According to Koechlin, the base represents the dream of Hercules, as it was described by Sebastian Brandt in his Ship of Fools.

Collection of Albert Figdor, Vienna (at least in 1924; inscription under the base: '825 Figd'): acquired by the Museum in 1935.

M. C. Enlart, 'La Volupté et la Mort: à propos d'une figurine d'ivoire du Musée de Cluny', in Mémoires et Bulletins de la Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France 67 (1907), pp. 115-136 (p. 121).
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 456; II, no. 1245; III, pl. CCV.
Images of Love and Death in Renaissance and Late Medieval Art, exhibition catalogue, ed. by W. R. Levin, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, November 1975-January 1976, p. 114, in relation to no. 76.
C. Theuerkauff, Die Bildwerke der Skulpturengalerie Berlin (Berlin, 1986), II: Die Bildwerke in Elfenbein des 16.-19. Jahrhunderts, no. 116.


© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst.

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