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Panel - Christ bearing the Cross

Christ bearing the Cross

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:

    A.137-1946

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Christ, bearded and wearing the torse and a long gown is represented in the centre of the panel holding the cross over his right shoulder. The left arm of the cross is supported with both hands by the Virgin who is shown wearing a gown and veil. Christ is led with a rope tied round his waist and held by a bearded figure, wearing a short girded tunic, pulling the cross with his right hand. Christ is pushed forward by a similar figure on the left of the panel, who holds a bill in his right hand.

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

Christ, bearded and wearing the torse and a long gown, is represented in the centre of the panel, leaning to the right and holding the cross over his right shoulder. The left arm of the cross is supported with both hands by the Virgin who is shown wearing a gown and veil. Christ is led with a rope tied round his waist and held by a bearded figure, wearing a short girded tunic, who looks back at him, pulling the cross with his right hand. Christ is pushed forward by a similar figure on the left of the panel, who holds a bill in his right hand. Four similar figures are found at the top of the panel, including one holding a halberd and another holding a hammer. St. John the Evangelist is shown at the top left of the panel holding a palm.

The top of the panel is badly chipped. The surface of the panel is badly weathered. There are slight traces of gilding on Christ's hair and on the background at the top of the panel.

There are two holes drilled in the back of the panel, one plugged with lead. The whole of the centre of the panel has been scooped away, and the bottom has been cut away even more.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved and gilt alabaster

Dimensions

Height: 50.9 cm, Width: 29.6 cm

Object history note

Acquired by Dr W. L. Hildburgh in Paris. On loan from him since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Descriptive line

Panel, alabaster, depicting Christ bearing the Cross, English, 15th century

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 242 (cat. 169), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
Rollason, L, 'English Alabasters in the fifteenth century' in Williams, D (ed.) England in the fifteenth century. Proceedings of the 1986 Harlaxton Symposium Woodbridge, 1987, pp.247-8.

Materials

Alabaster; Gilt

Techniques

Carving; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Bill; Gown; Halberd; Rope; Cross; Torse; Tunic; Veil; Palm; Hammer

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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