Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel, circa 1084. Ivory panel from the Cathedral of Salerno, Italy. Louvre Museum, Paris. Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

This Romanesque ivory carving from the 11th century is possibly part of a predella. It shows Cain and Abel sacrificing together, and in the next scene Cain kills Abel (see Gen 4:1-16). A predella is the platform or step on which an altar stands. Typically there would be three to five small scenes in a horizontal format, so this may be part of a series.

Predella carvings and paintings are significant in art history: the artist had more freedom from iconographic conventions than in the main panel, because they could only be seen close up. Predella scenes are often separated from the rest of the altarpiece in museums.

Cain and Abel

Gen 4:1-16

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