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Panel - Adoration of Mary and Joseph

Adoration of Mary and Joseph

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The iconography is based on a vision of St. Bridget of Sweden in 1370. The naked figure of the Child lies on a mandorla in the lower right corner of the panel, with his right hand raised in blessing and his left holding an orb. Behind Mary stands Joseph and the midwife Zebel. The kneeling figure is the second midwife, Salome.

Physical description

The naked figure of the Child lies on a mandorla in the lower right corner of the panel, his right hand raised in blessing, his left hand holding an orb. The crowned Virgin, wearing a close-fitting gown and a cloak over her shoulders, kneels, hands raised in an attitude of prayer and adoration, looking down at the Child, who radiates light on the ground in front of his mother. Behind Mary stands the bearded figure of Joseph, also looking at the Child, wearing a belted gown and a hood and holding a cross-staff in his right hand. The midwife, Zebel, wearing a veil and a belted gown, stands on the left of the panel, hands held together in prayer. The second midwife, the doubting Salome, wearing a heart-shaped headdress and a loose gown, kneels at the Virgin's feet, hands held together in prayer. At the top right corner of the panel the ox and the ass, looking remarkably alike, eat from a manger oddly placed on top of a square column. The main figures are carved in an elegant, elongated manner.

A break through the middle left of the panel has been repaired. Three holes, beside the manger, beside St. Joseph's right foot and in the top left corner have been drilled through the panel. Salome's headdress is damaged.

Green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the ground. Reddish-brown paint is on St. Joseph's staff and gown. The mandorla is painted orange and black, the ox and the ass black and reddish-brown. The Virgin's hair and crown are gilded, as well as details on the robes of the figures. There is gilding on the background with traces of gesso knobs. The food in the manger is green. There are many holes in the back of the panel including two which are plugged with lead. The bottom has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)


15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster


Height: 35.3 cm, Width: 25.5 cm

Object history note

Acquired in Paris by P. Nelson from whom it was acquired by Dr W.L. Hildburgh. On loan from him since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting the Adoration of Mary and Joseph. English, 15th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 178 (cat. 105), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Veil; Staff; Ox; Gown; Ass; Hood; Cloak; Column; Headdress; Crown; Orb


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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