Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Panel - Quenching of the ashes of St John the Baptist (?)
  • Quenching of the ashes of St John the Baptist (?)
  • Enlarge image

Quenching of the ashes of St John the Baptist (?)

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved and painted alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Although the subject of this panel has not been firmly identified, it probably shows the Saint's bones being burnt on the orders of Julian the Apostate. The fire was then put out and the ashes were scattered.

Physical description

A veiled woman, wearing a girded gown and apron, standing on the lower right of the panel, pours what appears to be water from a shallow round vessel onto a pile of logs or fire in the lower centre of the panel. A man, wearing a doublet, bends towards the fire holding a spade or pitchfork. Above him stands a woman, wearing a horned headdress and a girded gown, also apparently pouring water onto the fire. A man, wearing a low-belted doublet, stands at the top right of the panel, holding his right hand to his head and with his left hand holding something over his shoulder.

The top left corner of the panel has been restored in plaster. The panel is cracked right across in the middle. The left hand of the small figure near the fire is misisng, as well as the shaft of the spade or pitchfork which he holds. The left arm of the figure in the top right of the panel is missing.

Green paint, looking very 'scrubbed,' remains on the usual daisy-patterned ground. The paint on the upper background looks modern. The top left corner of the panel has been backed with slate. There are two lead-plugged holes, one with a latten wire attached. The bottom has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)


late 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved and painted alabaster


Height: 39.3 cm, Width: 25.6 cm

Object history note

Formerly in Genoa. Later 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: There are no other recorded English alabaster panels of the Quenching of the Ashes of St. John the Baptist.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting the quenching of the ashes of St John the Baptist (?). English, late 15th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 120 (cat. 49), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
Davies Glyn and Townsend, Eleanor, ed. by, A Reservoir of Ideas: Essays in Honour of Paul Williamson, London, Paul Holberton Publishing in assoc with V&A Publishing, 2017, pp.176-186, fig.1


Alabaster; Paint


Carving; Painting

Subjects depicted

Log; Apron; Doublet; Water; Fires; Basin; Gown; Headdress; Veil


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.