Not currently on display at the V&A

Christ bearing the Cross

Panel
15th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved and gilt alabaster
Brief Description
Panel, alabaster, depicting Christ bearing the Cross, English, 15th century
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.
Dimensions
  • Height: 50.9cm
  • Width: 29.6cm
Style
Credit line
Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA
Object history
Acquired by Dr W. L. Hildburgh in Paris. On loan from him since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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.
Collection
Accession Number
A.137-1946

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdNovember 22, 2002
Record URL