Rare 12th-century Walrus ivory carving acquisition

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Help the V&A save the Deposition from the Cross for the Nation

The V&A is seeking to acquire an exceptionally rare English walrus ivory carving from the 12th century depicting the Deposition from the Cross, which was on long-term loan to the Museum from 1982 to 2022, and during this time on continuous display in its Medieval & Renaissance galleries. This nationally significant work of art is currently at risk of leaving the UK and is now subject to a temporary export bar placed by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport in November 2023, in the hope that a domestic buyer can be found.

“The Deposition from the Cross ivory is one of the most beautiful, entrancing and historically important items to have been on display at the V&A. It tells the story of humanism long before the Renaissance, and speaks to an elemental part of English culture. It is vital that we return it to display, for free, for everyone, forever.”

- Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A

Why does this object belong at the V&A?

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest have stated that the Deposition from the Cross is ‘one of the most culturally and aesthetically significant objects’ they have ever considered, and that this important work is of eminent importance for providing vital insights into a period of English history, from which very few objects have survived. The successful acquisition of the Deposition from the Cross by the V&A would allow for the sculpture to be re-united with the only known surviving piece of the same ensemble, a fragmentary ivory carving of Judas at the Last Supper, discovered in Wakefield during the 18th-century, which is currently in the V&A Collection.

How your support can make a difference

The V&A must raise the entire £2 million cost of the acquisition and we have launched a fundraising campaign seeking donations to help us reach our ambition of maximising long term public access to this unique work. The V&A is a charity and relies on the generosity of supporters who share our passion for art and design – every gift made towards this campaign will help us save the Deposition from the Cross for the nation.


Deposition from the Cross Walrus Ivory

Deposition from the Cross (around 1190-1200). Photo: © Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


In addition to online donations, we are also able to accept your gift by cheque or over the phone. To discuss your donation further, please call us on 020 7942 2905 (Monday – Friday, 10.00 – 17.00) or email


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