Antique Gothic Revival style ivory double comb


This exquisite ivory comb formed part an important art collection which was owned by the Cowell family and later bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum.


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Each side of the ivory double comb is carved with a rectangular panel which is divided into three sections by columns. The sections contain carvings depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Christian Bible. On one side the scenes depict the Arrest of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, then his trial, either before the Sanhedrin or Pontius Pilate, and lastly Christ carrying his own cross. The other side shows the Crucifixion, Entombment, and Resurrection of Christ. These scenes are contained within frames carved with trefoil motifs. The top and bottom sides of the item are edged with comb teeth, and the corners are decorated with miniature stained-glass window carvings.


This ivory carving was in the collection of Mr and Mrs George Cowell in the early 20th Century. When Mrs Cowell died in 1925, some twenty items from the collection were bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. At the time, a press release was issued, reading ‘The Victoria and Albert Museum has received an important accession to its collection of Medieval and Renaissance Art by the bequest of the late Mrs George Cowell. Her son Mr Athelstan Riley has generously renounced a life interest in the bequest and the objects are now on exhibition in the Central Court of the Museum.’ Athelstan Riley lived at No. 2 Kensington Court, London and later at The Manor of La Trinité in Jersey. He was the grandfather of the previous owner.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Biblical, Christian, Figurative Art, Gothic, Religious
White, Yellow


12 cm / 4.7 inches
14.5 cm / 5.5 inches
1 cm / 0.4 inches


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