Description This pyx, a container used in the Catholic Mass for the consecrated wafer, has lost it cover. The artist was an ivory carver of the Sapi people of coastal West Africa who was working on commission from a Portuguese trader who expected to sell such exotic objects to princely patrons in Europe. The images of the Passion of Christ are taken from a contemporary European illustrated Bible. Most of the works in ivory commissioned from West African carvers were for conspicuous display, such as magnificent salt cellars for the tables of the wealthy, but they all share the treasured characteristic of intricate surface design. One Portuguese writing in the 16th century described these carvers as "very ingenious, and their objects, wonderful to see." The Sapi style of ivory carving is evident in the dense mass of figures and the textured, linear design.
- 1492: An Ongoing Voyage. The Library of Congress, Washington. 1992-1993.
- Encompassing the Globe. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 2007.
- Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton. 2012-2013.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
Download Image Add to Collection Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Creative Commons License