Description Francis van Bossuit specialized in small ivory reliefs, preferring subjects that take advantage of the smooth and melting texture of carved ivory. Here, the soft sensuousness of Judith's naked shoulder contrasts with the rough features of the decapitated oppressor. Bossuit was renowned for "using ivory as though it were wax." This handling was probably influenced by his slightly older compatriots Artus Quelinus and Gerhard van Opstal. The artist was trained in Antwerp and Brussels but left for Italy around 1655. He remained there, chiefly in Rome, until 1685, after which he settled in Amsterdam. The panel is carved in high relief with a concave background from a single section of elephant ivory, which makes use of the full diameter of the tusk. The darkened outer surface of the tusk is still intact along portions of the long sides of the relief, where its curvature is still evident.
Provenance Sale, Sotheby's, New York, January 22, 2004, lot 165 ("property of a European gentleman"); purchased by Joaneath Spicer, Baltimore, January 22, 2004; given to Walters Art Museum, 2009.
Credit Gift of Joaneath Spicer, 2009
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