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St John the Baptist preaching

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    second half 15th 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.161-1946

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

St John the Baptist, ios shown preaching to an audience which includes birds, lions and a monkey, alluding to Isaiah's prophecy that the arrival of the Messiah would be announced by a voice crying aloud in the wilderness. The Saint has a forked beard and long hair and stands in the centre of the panel pointing with his right hand to his emblem, the Lamb of God which kneels on a closed book which he holds in his left hand. He wears a camel-skin cloak around his shoulders, the head of which hangs down to the ground, leaving his legs bare. On the left of the panel there is a bearded man, wearing a cloak and a hood who kneels in prayer holding a rosary.

Physical description

The bottom of the panel is battlemented. The saint, with a forked beard and long hair, stands in the centre of the panel. He points with his right hand to his emblem, the Lamb of God kneeling on a closed book, which he holds in his left. Round his shoulders he wears a cloak over a camel-skin, the head of which hangs down to the ground, leaving his legs bare; he has a belt round his waist. On the left of the panel a bearded man, wearing a cloak and a hood kneels in prayer, holding a rosary. A female figure stands behind him on the left, next to a bearded figure wearing a hat. On the right of the panel a bearded figure, wearing a cloak fastened with a brooch, is seated with his right hand resting on a closed book. Behind him stands a female figure wearing a veil. They all look towards the saint. At the top of the panel are five birds on the tops of trees which are represented as padded discs on stalks. On the lower left of the panel two lions sit looking up at the saint, opposite a lion and a monkey on the lower right of the panel.

The top left corner of the panel is chipped. There is a hole through the panel in the top left corner. Green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the lower part of the panel. The upper background is gilt with traces of gesso knobs. There is gilding on the Baptist's hair, beard and camel-skin and on details of his cloak and on the garments of the other figures. The trees are green, some with red spotted daisy decoration, others with a leaf pattern applied. The birds are painted various browns.

The back of the panel is marked with nine short horizontal lines. There are three lead-plugged holes. The base of the panel has been cut away, although, unusually, this is not visible from the back.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

second half 15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Marks and inscriptions

9 short horizontal lines.
On the back of the panel.; incising

Dimensions

Height: 45.4 cm, Width: 22.8 cm

Object history note

Acquired by Dr W. L. Hildburgh in Paris. On loan from him since 1929. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting St John the Baptist preaching. English, second half of 15th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 116 (cat. 45), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0

Materials

Alabaster; Paint; Gilt

Techniques

Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Lion (animal); Veil; Brooch; Hat; Bird; Cloak; Rosary; Trees; Book; Lamb; Hood; Monkey (animal)

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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