François du Puy Prayer-Nut

wooden bead inscribed with scenes of kneeling men

Adam Dircksz and workshop
François du Puy Prayer-Nut, ca. 1517−21
Diam. 1 7/8 in. (4.7 cm)
Private collection



This prayer-nut is the only surviving boxwood micro-carving associated with the Carthusian order. It exemplifies the variety of devotional objects used by the monks, especially in the order’s upper echelons. Depicted across its two hemispheres is the prior-general of the order, François du Puy, introduced by the order’s founder, St. Bruno, to the Virgin and Child. Du Puy holds a scroll petitioning the Virgin — and the viewer — for remembrance and protection. This imagery replicates that of the Frick Virgin on a miniature scale. The outer shell of the prayer-nut depicts a scene from the foundation myth of the order.

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