"A Koechlin for the 21st century" as Courtauld Institute tickles the ivories for Gothic database

By Culture24 Staff | 15 December 2010
A photo of a sculpture of a mother holding a child
Relief, Virgin and Child (detail), French or Netherlandish (circa 1300-1350)© The Courtauld Gallery
The first 700 examples from a 3,000-item collection of Gothic ivories has been made available for the first time online today in a detailed online project uniting London’s Courtauld Gallery with collections and institutions across the world.

The database of statuettes, minutely-carved diptychs and triptychs, mirror backs and caskets taken from auctions, private and public collections aims to update French scholar Raymond Koechlin’s 1924 study, Les Ivoires Gothiques Francais, which numbered 1,328 objects illustrated by 500 images.

“As so many Gothic ivories were divided up for sale in the nineteenth century, there is a very real chance of being able to identify what have been thought to be missing parts of a whole,” says Dr Catherine Yvard, the Project Manager, who calls it “a Koechlin for the 21st century”.

“The support we received from institutions around the world has been astonishing – all the major collections have joined us and smaller collections have also been enthusiastic. We are equally interested in including objects in private collections, so as to be as comprehensive as possible.”

Visitors to the website can search for pieces by content, origin, function and other categories, with in-depth annotations accompanying each entry. The majority are illustrated with high-resolution colour images available from different views.

“The project has been made possible by the collaboration of numerous institutions,” says Professor John Lowden, the Director of the Project. “But it is not only the major museums that will benefit from this resource.  Many Gothic ivories are still in private collections, and the website will enable owners to identify what they have.”

Visit www.gothicivories.courtauld.ac.uk
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