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The Ascension

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 14th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:

    A.147-1946

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A square tablet, marked with the imprint of Christ's feet is shown on a mound in the top centre of the panel. The Virgin, bareheaded and wearing a gown and a cloak and shoes is shown kneeling facing right and looks upwards with her hands held together in prayer. Behind her kneels the bearded St Andrew, wearing a gown and a cloak and holding the saltire cross in his right hand. In the front of the panel St John the Evangelist is shown kneeling facing the Virgin, with the palm pointing downwards in his left hand. Next to him is the tonsured figure of St Peter, holding his symbolic key and the figure of St Bartholomew holding his emblem, the knife in his left hand.

This is the lower part of a panel, the top part of which probably included a representation of the lower part of the figure of Christ rising to heaven.

Physical description

The panel has chamfered edges, indicating a 14th-century date. A square tablet, marked with the imprint of Christ's feet, is shown on a mound in the top centre of the panel. The Virgin, bare-headed and wearing a gown and cloak and shoes kneels facing right and looks upwards, her hands held together in prayer. Behind her kneels the bearded St. Andrew, wearing a gown and cloak, holding the saltire cross in his right hand. Two similar figures of apostles are grouped behind the mound on the left of the panel. In the front of the panel on the right-hand side the beardless figure of St. John the Evangelist kneels facing the Virgin, with the palm pointing downwards in his left hand. Next to him is the tonsured figure of St. Peter holding his symbolic key, with the figure of St. Bartholomew on the right of the panel, holding his emblem, the knife, in his left hand. The heads of three more apostles are to be seen on the top right of the panel behind the mound. All the full-length figures are shown kneeling, but characteristically, the proportions of the legs are anatomically wrong, the lower parts of the limbs being too short.

The top of the panel is missing. The head of an eleventh apostle is presumably broken away from the left corner of the panel. The head of St. Andrew and the emblems carried by St. Peter and St. Bartholomew are damaged. There are diagonal breaks across the top left and lower right corners which have been repaired in plaster.

The slightest trace of green paint remains on the ground and some gilding remains on the hair and beards of the figures and on St. John's palm. The knife of St. Bartholomew still bears a reddish-brown paint. Three holes are in the back of the panel bearing lead plugs. There are three large depressions in the back of the panel where the alabaster has been scooped out.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

late 14th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Dimensions

Height: 31.1 cm, Width: 27.1 cm

Object history note

On loan from Dr W.L. Hildburgh since 1927. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Descriptive line

Panel, alabaster, The Ascension, English, late 14th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 289 (cat. 216), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0

Materials

Alabaster; Paint; Gilt

Techniques

Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Gown; Shoes; Key; Saint Andrew's crosses; Knives (cutting tools); Cloak; Palm

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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