The 9th century ivory "book" preserved in the Museo del Duomo is made up of two connected tablets, from which it gets the name Diptych, from Greek: two folds, illustrating four episodes from the Passion of the Christ, narrated from top to bottom and from left to right and weakly subdivided into registers.
A metal structure with an engraved palm motif, affixed to the wood core of the tablets, frames the sequence of the story: a dense and continuous composition, in which the weight of the figures seems to push upon and invade the thin line of earth that separates the registers.
On the left side, the incipit is the washing of the feet, with a tree and a house in the background, followed by the double representation of Pontius Pilate washing his hands and Jesus being led to prison. The third register speaks of Judas' betrayal and his remorse, while the last represents the guards watching over the sepulchre. Christ is portrayed young and beardless.
The right side contains scenes from after the Resurrection: the visit of the women at the sepulchre, the angel awaiting them, and the flight of the guards; in the lower register it is Christ himself who meets the women and speaks to the Apostles, among whom one can discern Thomas' incredulity and the surprise in the gestures of the disciples.
The buildings and trees seem to overstep the boundaries of the narrative and unite the vision in a single, fluid, and natural literary thread.
The compression of the scenes requires clear and expressive gestures, a realistic representation that is emotionally engaging and dramatic.
The restoration conducted in 2012 removed the dirt from the carvings, restored the relief through meticulous treatment of the undercuts, and brought out the pearly sheen of the ivory.
You can see this splendid Carolingian artefact everyday except for Wednesdays, from 10am-6pm in the Treasury Room.