Salerno (Campania)

Ivory carvings

late 11th c.

    The Salerno ivories make up a set mostly kept by the Salerno Diocesan Museum, and some items were bought during the 19th c. by various museums including the Rouen museum. The original set comprised 67 items depicting mostly scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The two unconnected scenes are superimposed on each plate. The narrative only makes sense when all the tablets are brought together. This depiction of religious history shows high artistic quality and expresses a learned theological culture such as can be seen in the same period in the frescoes of San Angelo in Formis (Campania) and the mosaics of the Palatine Chapel and Monreale at Palermo. The Salerno artists were the masters of ivory work during the 11th c., and although we do not know the original destination of this set, it is tempting to see it decorating some particularly prestigious altar such as the one at Salerno Cathedral, consecrated in 1084.

- I Normanni, popolo d'Europa, Roma, Venezia, 1994, a cura di Mario d'Onofio, n 107.

Salerno, Curia Arcivescovile e Soprintendenza di Salerno e Avellino

Photography : D.R.