2 5/8 × 7/8 × 1/8 in. (5.1 × 2.3 × 0.2 cm)
0.232 oz. (6.6 g)
Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020
Purchased by David P. Harris from the Falcon Gallery in London on May 4, 1968. The receipt for this object was signed by Gerald Beasley, however there is no documentation to connect him further to this piece or the Gallery. The Falcon Gallery also does not have much documentation, though there is an Issue of Studio International from June 1967 that mentions the Gallery under the headline “New Galleries” and describes it as specializing in icons. There is no known closing date for the Gallery, though there are other pieces Harris acquired from the Gallery up until 1974. As the clasp was bought in 1968, even though there is no documentation of the object’s specific country of origin, it was in London by this date and thus conforms to the requirements of the 1970 Convention.
There is a small crack near Mary's right shoulder and another crack on Jesus’s right shoulder. The crack appears as if it might have been caused by the clasp being pinched. The inscription on the right side of Jesus is misshapen, suggesting this area might have been repaired in the past. In the deeper areas of the clasp there is some discoloration which resembles rust, moreso on the side with Jesus. There is a small black mark on the left side of Jesus’s halo. The ring on one end of the clasp appears to have broken off and is missing. September 2022. Alexis Whitney ('25)
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Each figure is labeled with their standard Greek inscriptions ΜΡ ΘV ΙC [Χ]C. The X to the right of Christ’s bust has been largely obliterated, suggesting that this portion of the clasp has been repaired.
This silver clasp, likely part of a necklace, is in the shape of a superimposed quatrefoil and square. On one end of the clasp there is a ring, while on the other end it appears that the ring has been broken off. The clasp features images in relief of Christ and the Mother of God on either side. There is a raised border in a bead-like pattern around the images. This border exhibits some wear, encouraging the idea that the clasp was used. Both of the figures are shown from the chest up, however Mary’s body, suggested through draped fabric, extends to the frame beneath her.
One side of the clasp shows Jesus, holding a book in his left hand and holding up two fingers of his right hand in a blessing. There is a halo around his head and he is identified by the Greek inscription on either side of him. The left side of Jesus’ face looks a little droopy compared to the right, which can be seen in his misshapen, ovalular eye and mis-placed pupil. Mary is shown on the other side of the clasp with a halo and her hands held out in front of her body. She is identified by the Greek inscriptions on either side of her head. She is portrayed with only her face and hands being visible; the rest of her body, including her hair, is covered in fabric.
This clasp, when flipped upwards, shows each figure properly oriented. However, when flipped laterally, the reverse figure is seen upside down. This suggests that this was most likely a piece of jewelry worn by someone, and was expected to twist and flip upwards but not to be flipped laterally.
Alexis Whitney ('25) for ARHS 291 Museum Object (Fall 2022).