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Christ before Herod

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    early 16th 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

This alabaster relief is one of numerous examples of late medieval sculpture directly influenced by prints. A woodcut of Christ before Pilate in the Biblioteque Royale in Brussels is virtually identical, including the unusual back view of the figure on the right.

Physical description

The haloed and bearded Christ, wearing a gown, stands to the right of the panel, his hands bound with a rope. On his left with his back towards us is an attendant wearing a short-belted tunic, whose position suggests he may be holding the rope binding Christ. Christ looks at the bearded figure of Herod Antipas, enthroned beneath a canopy between columns. His crown is bound with a turban and he wears a gown with a wide collar, which is pulled up over his right knee. He holds a sceptre in his right hand, which he rests on his shoulder. His feet in close-fitting shoes rest on a cushion, three tassels of which can be seen. To the left, a bearded figure stands behind Herod pointing accusingly, the index finger of his right hand extended in Christ's direction. He wears a cap with a turned-up brim on the side of his head, a gown and a long coat with sleeves gathered tightly above and below the elbow. A scroll rises above his left shoulder. This figure presumably represents one of the scribes who with the chief priests accused Christ in front of Herod. The face which is shown looking down in the top right corner may represent Judas. The carving is vigorous and has a strong individual style, which is not typical.

The whole of the top of the panel and the bottom right corner are missing. Herod's left arm is missing. Christ's head is gilded. The faces of his enemies are blackened. The inscription on the scroll has disappeared. Christ's halo is painted red and black. Herod's stockings are red. The background at the bottom of the panel is blackish. There are five lead-filled holes in the back of the panel. The bottom has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)


early 16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster


Height: 40 cm, Width: 34.2 cm

Object history note

In the possession of P. Nelson from whom it was acquired by Dr W.L. Hildburgh. On loan from him since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Historical significance: The inclusion in the design of a complete backview of a figure is most unusual, and can be attributed to the influence of a contemporary Flemish print.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting Christ before Herod. English, early 16th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 232 (cat. 159), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
Williams, D (ed.) England in the fifteenth century. Proceedings of tge 1986 Harlaxton Symposium Woodbridge, 1987, pp. 248-9.


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Canopy; Halo; Throne; Cap; Column; Crown; Cushion; Scroll; Sceptre; Coat; Tunic; Turban; Tassel; Shoes; Rope


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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