Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Diptych with Maria with Child and Christ

 Two related wings of a diptych from the middle of the 6th century preserved in the public museums of Berlin have been tied to the ancient tradition of consular-diptychs, but they depict Mary with her child and Christ instead of the Emperor. However, both sit on a throne with a classical cylindrical seat-cushion under a mussel-shaped niche, i. e. an imperial „architectural scenery“. Mary and Christ are represented frontally and are flanked by secondary figures, Mary by two angels and Christ by Peter and Paul. This „strict protocol“ is livened up only by the child on his mother’s lap, but there is nothing of this kind on the other wing. On the other wing, the child also fits with the strict composition in that he is depicted as a minature adult Christ. They are equal in manner of sitting and gesture. Differences exist merely in physiognomy and the object on which the left hand is resting. The child holds a scroll and the adult a codex. Since both wings have been shortened on their lower side by approx 5.5 cm, an inscription which would have given information about their origin, use and intention, is missing today. Neverhteless, one can infer from what can be seen that the wings present a survey of the heavenly origin of Christ, as testified by the angels, to the message of the Gospel passed on by Peter and Paul.