Gothic Ivories Project

Project Director: Prof. John Lowden
Project Manager 2008-2015:  Dr Catherine Yvard

The production of ivory objects flourished in the Gothic period, especially in France: delicate statuettes, minutely carved diptychs and triptychs, mirror backs and wonderful caskets with secular scenes have survived in collections around the world.

The last comprehensive survey of Gothic ivories contained over 1300 items and was published by Raymond Koechlin in 1924 in his seminal work Les Ivoires gothiques français.

Since then, many more ivories have surfaced in auction houses, and private and public collections; valuable articles and catalogues have been written; scientific examination and increasing expertise have all shed more light on these exquisite objects. It is now time for another survey, a ‘Koechlin for the 21st-century’.

Taking as the starting point the photographic resources of the Conway Library, which represent over 1,500 ivory objects in private and public collections, the Gothic Ivories Project is a database which will include all readily available information on each Gothic ivory, accompanied by at least one image.

This resource will allow wide-ranging searches on iconography, provenance, origin, post-medieval repairs and replacements, modern forgeries, and any other relevant aspects. Ultimately, it will be possible to view in one place images and detailed information on thousand of items scattered in collections around the world.


Objects made in Europe dating from c. 1200-c. 1530 (excluding Embriachi), and modern imitations.

The website

Little known, the ivory world still needs to be discovered.

This project is made possible thanks to Thomson Works of Art, Paul Ruddock and John Rassweiler.