Harbaville Triptych Essay

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The Byzantine ivory carving the Harbaville Triptych was made in the middle of the 10th century. Also known as the “Deësis”, Christ is seated on a throne between the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. St. Peter is in the register below directly under Christ with the apostles, James, John, Paul and Andrew. Their names are inscribed by them. There isn’t a background so they are stand in a vague spatial setting. Traces of coloring can still be seen on some figures. It is an ivory carving probably made in one of Constantinople’s workshops and is connected to the Imperial Court and an example of Byzantine classicism. The Harbaville Triptych is elegant and finely carved with a delicate appearance and it is in the style typical of the Court…show more content…
It is carved on both sides and shows other saints and martyrs, both sides are carved with an elaborate decorative scheme with the central leaf which shows a beautifully carved cross along with animals, flowers and plants depicting the Garden of Eden with two cypress trees symbolizing good and evil. Above the cross is inscribed “IC XC NIKA”, which translates to “Jesus Christ is victorious”. The triptych folds up neatly as it is hinged and consists of three panels; this makes it portable and easy to travel with. The figures are all standing straight and look stiff and solemn and I can see why the style is referred to as “anti-natural” as compared to the subjects of the Gemma Augustea which has a flowing and realistic quality. The translucency of the onyx makes the flowing garments and the scenes have motion, such as the soldier’s cape blowing back and the crowning of Augustus whereas the subjects in the triptych seem still and motionless as if they are posing to have a picture taken. The texture looks to be very smooth and flawless on the Gemma Augustea whereas the triptych has a texture that looks smooth but less so. As far as the proportion of the subjects in both items, they are fairly equal and realistically depicted except the figures in the triptych are somewhat elongated. The horse in the Gemma Augustea is

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