During the Antiquity, the trade in ivory began. Numerous sculptures were made by imperial power during the Byzantine Empire, as the ivory Barberini representing the Emperor Justinian, now preserved in the Louvre. Ivory was rarely used at the beginning of the Middle Ages because of trade routes sometimes interrupted, and had to wait until the 13th century to spread in the kingdom of France. The ivory plate sculpture is reserved for a clientele of luxury, mainly royal, princely and religious. The ivory worked by the ivory artists is painted with various pigments and precious materials such as gold and lapis lazuli.
With the 15th century and the great discoveries, one begins to collect the sculptures in Asian ivory. As early as 1628, France opened a trading post in Senegal via the port of Dieppe which realized a very fine statuary for immediate success.
From the 17th to the end of the 19th century many sculptures are made in this material, they are mostly religious. During the 20th century, the chryséléphantine sculpture associated ivory with other materials such as bronze. Today's ivory is a prohibited sale because it comes from endangered animals, which does not prevent the collection of pre-convention ivory, that is to say before 1975 .