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The Resurrection

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1400-1420 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case 7

This is an alabaster panel, made in England in ca. 1400-1420 and depicts the Resurrection. Christ steps out of his tomb onto the chest of a moustachioed Roman soldier. The Roman soldiers are represented as heavily armed, late 14th-century men-at-arms in surcoats and plate armour. The ground on which they rest has been painted with a generic flower pattern used on most 15th-century English alabaster panels.

There are two sorts of alabaster. Calcite alabaster is very hard and was used in ancient times. This object is made of gypsum alabaster which is a fine-grained, soft and smooth stone. Although at first glance it looks a little like marble, which it was intended to imitate, it was much easier to carve due to its softness, and alabaster objects were therefore significantly cheaper to produce. Marble does not originate in England, so it was imported if needed.
The carving of alabaster, mostly quarried in Tutbury and Chellaston near Nottingham, took on industrial proportions in England between the middle of the 14th and the early 16th centuries. The market for altarpieces and smaller devotional images was a large one. It included not only religious foundations but also the merchant classes. Many hundreds of English alabasters were exported, some as far afield as Iceland and Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.

Physical description

The panel is in high relief with an embattled top. The haloed and bearded Christ, wearing the torse, a loincloth and the shroud over his shoulders, is represented with his right arm extended and raised, presumably in blessing, holding the cross-staff and banner of the Resurrection in his left hand. He steps out of the tomb, set diagonally in the centre of the panel, with his right foot onto the chest of a moustachioed soldier, who wears a basinet and tippet of mail, a jupon with a low belt and knee-guards. The soldier lies on sloping ground in front of the tomb, holding the blade end of a battle-axe which lies on the ground beside him. Three similar sleeping soldiers are found on the panel, two behind the tomb, the left-hand figure resting his head on his folded arms, the right-hand figure holding a lance; the third soldier is seated against the right corner of the tomb, resting his head on his clasped hands and leaning on his upturned battle-axe.

The top left and the bottom right corners of the panel are damaged. The battlementing is chipped. Christ's right hand is missing. The bottom half of Christ's cross-staff is restored. There is the usual daisy pattern on the green ground. Gilding and traces of black remain on the figures. The background at the top of the panel is gilt with the remains of gesso knobs. There are four holes drilled in the back of the panel filled with lead. The bottom of the panel has been chipped away.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1400-1420 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster


Height: 43.5 cm, Width: 29.8 cm

Object history note

Previously in the possesssion of Robert Hillingford. Acquired by P. Nelson and on loan from him since 1923. Latterly in the possession of Dr W. L. Hildburgh and on loan from him since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Descriptive line

Panel, alabaster, The Resurrection, English, 1400-1420

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 274 (cat. 201), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
English Medieval Alabaster Carvings : York Festival Exhibition. York : City of York Art Gallery, 1954


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Halo; Daisy; Banner; Torse; Soldier; Tomb; Shroud; Loincloth; Lance; Armour; Staff; Battle-axe


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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