Knight of the de Lucy family thumbnail 1
Knight of the de Lucy family thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 9, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Gallery

This object consists of 4 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Knight of the de Lucy family

Effigy
ca. 1340-1350 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This tomb effigy was discovered in an underfloor vault during excavations in a chapel space at Lesnes Abbey, Kent. The chapel was probably the site of the Abbey's Lady Chapel, which was built in the 1370s. This effigy is somewhat older than that, and this would explain its unusual placement in an underfloor vault: it was either in an earlier chapel on this site, or was moved here from elsewhere in the abbey.

There is a pike fish (i.e. a luce) scratched into the shield borne by the knight. This may reflect the original decoration of this shield. The pike fish formed part of the arms of the de Lucy family. The family were patrons of the church from its foundation until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 4 parts.

  • Sepulchral Effigy
  • Fragment
  • Fragment
  • Effigy of Knight De Lucy Family Fragment
Materials and Techniques
Totternhoe limestone decorated with gesso, painted and gilt
Brief Description
Effigy of a Knight of the de Lucy family, Totternhoe limestone decorated with gesso, painted and gilt, England (London), about 1340-1350
Physical Description
Totternhoe limestone decorated with gesso, painted and gilt
Dimensions
  • Height: 39.9cm
  • Width: 175.7cm
  • Depth: 61.7cm
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries 2006.
Object history
The V&A effigy was discovered in an underfloor vault during excavations in a chapel space to the East of the South Transept of Lesnes Abbey, Kent. The position of this chapel makes it likely that it was the site of the Abbey's Lady Chapel, which was being built in 1371. This effigy is somewhat older than that, and this would explain its unusual placement in an underfloor vault: it was either in an earlier chapel on this site, or was moved here from elsewhere in the abbey.

The effigy was already broken when excavated. The Museum acquired it in nine main pieces with another twenty one fragments.

There is a pike fish (i.e. a luce) scratched into the shield borne by the knight. This may reflect the original decoration of this shield. The pike fish was a key element in the canting arms of the de Lucy family, which had been instrumental in setting up the conventual church, and retained its patronal interest until the Dissolution.



Historical significance: This figure gives a good idea of a typical knightly tomb of the fourteenth century. The figure is bearing full arms, but lies in death with hands raised in prayer, and legs crossed in a gesture of courtly elegance. In other words, the effigy sends out messages about the social roles of the tomb's occupant, along with emphasising his status and his piety. The elaborate and costly nature of this tomb effigy contrasts strongly with the simple tomb slab of Abbot Elyas (died ca. 1300), which was also found during excavations at the abbey.

The armour, interestingly, appears to be just a little out of date, being in a style which was particularly in favour in the period 1325-35, although armour of this type was still in use until about 1350.
Historical context
This figure would have originally formed part of an imposing tomb. It would certainly have had a tomb chest below, probably with gothic arcading and figures. It may also have had an elaborate architectural canopy.

The appearance of the figure would have been somewhat different, as it was extensively decorated with polychromy (i.e. painted and gilded decoration), and details such as chain mail modelled in gesso.
Production
There is a close relationship between this effigy, and several others believed to come from London workshops. In particular, the V&A effigy resembles a tomb in Ifield Church, Sussex, believed to be that of John de Ifield (died 1317, but tomb later); an effigy at Waterperry, Oxfordshire, possibly that of Robert Fitzellis (died in or before 1346); and that of John of Willoughby (died 1349) at Spilsby, Lincolnshire.

The London attribution of all these effigies is on the grounds of their similarities with the figure of John of Eltham, the young brother of Edward III, on his tomb in Westminster Abbey (the tomb dating to after 1339). The Eltham effigy, probably a product of the workshop of the architect William Ramsey III (died 1349), is however, in alabaster, and has several significant differences. It cannot be inferred that the so-called "Eltham group" of effigies were all produced in the same workshop. The similarities between the group do, however, seem to suggest that all the pieces were made in London, probably in the 1340s.
Subjects depicted
Association
Summary
This tomb effigy was discovered in an underfloor vault during excavations in a chapel space at Lesnes Abbey, Kent. The chapel was probably the site of the Abbey's Lady Chapel, which was built in the 1370s. This effigy is somewhat older than that, and this would explain its unusual placement in an underfloor vault: it was either in an earlier chapel on this site, or was moved here from elsewhere in the abbey.



There is a pike fish (i.e. a luce) scratched into the shield borne by the knight. This may reflect the original decoration of this shield. The pike fish formed part of the arms of the de Lucy family. The family were patrons of the church from its foundation until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Bibliographic References
  • Williamson, Paul and Peta Evelyn. Northern Gothic Sculpture 1200-1450. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1988. pp. 134-138. cat. no. 38.
  • Clapham, E. W. The Excavations of Lesnes Abbey. Proceedings of the Woolwich Antiquarian Society. XV, 1910. pp. 155-161.
  • Southwick, L. The Armoured Effigy of Prince John of Eltham in Westminster Abbey and Some Closely Related Military Monuments. Church Monuments II, 1987. pp. 9-21.
  • Cf. Crossley, Fred. H. English Church Moments A. D. 1150-1550. London : B.T. Batsford, 1921. p. 215.
  • Boulter, Sarah. Polychrome and Petrographical Analysis of the De Lucy Effigy. V&A Conservation Journal. July 1993. no. 8. pp. 4-7.
  • Darrah, Josephine A. White and Golden Tin Foil in Applied Relief Decoration, 1240-1530. In: Hermens, Erma and Annemiek Ouwerkerk eds.Looking through Paintings: the Study of Painting Techniques and Materials in Support of Art Historic Research. (Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek. XI, 1998) pp. 58-59. figs. 5-6. pls. 5-6.
  • Downing, Mark. Lions of the Middle Ages: a Preliminary Survey of Lions on Medieval Military Effifies. Church Moments. XIII. 1998. pp. 17-34. fig. 14.
  • Maclagan, Michael. An Heraldic Walk Round the V&A. V&A Album. 3, 1984. pp. 195-196. fig. 2.
  • Harris, Oliver D. 'Antiquarian Attitudes: Crossed Legs, Crusaders and the Evolution of an Idea'. The Antiquaries Journal, vol. 90 (2010), pp. 401-40.
Collection
Accession Number
A.10:1-1912

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record createdSeptember 1, 2004
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