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The Coronation of the Virgin

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    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.173-1946

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Virgin, wearing a triple crown, a close-fitting gown and a cloak is enthroned in the centre of the panel with her hands raised apart in an attitude of prayer. Above her to the left, enthroned on a pedestal is God the Son and on the right God the Father. A larger part of the top of the panel is missing and this presumably included a representation of the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove.

Alabaster, a fine grained form of gypsum, is a smooth marble-like stone that became popular during the late Middle Ages for the carving of religious sculpture. Softer than marble, it was much easier to carve and also considerably cheaper. England was an important European centre of alabaster production, with quarries outside Nottingham, York, Burton-on-Trent and London. From about 1380s, alabasters - both single devotional images and reliefs for altarpieces - were exported in considerable numbers to the continent where they were to survive, whereas in England such images were destroyed during the Reformation.

Physical description

The Virgin, wearing a triple crown, a close-fitting gown and a cloak, is enthroned in the centre of the panel, her hands raised apart in an attitude of prayer. She wears shoes. Above to the left, enthroned on a pedestal, is God the Son, crowned and bearded and wearing the torse, a cloak over his shoulders and knees, his right hand raised in blessing. God the Father, crowned and bearded and wearing a gown and belt, tippet and cloak, is enthroned at the lower level on the right of the panel, touching the Virgin's crown with his right hand. An orb surmounted by a cross is in his left hand. Both figures of the Trinity have bare feet.

A large part of the top of the panel, which doubtless included a representation of the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove, or possibly as a third individual, is missing and has been repaired with wax. The Virgin's shoes are damaged. The left hand of the Son is missing. The cross on the orb is broken.

Green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the ground at the bottom of the panel and also on the pedestal beneath the Son's feet. Gilding remains on crowns, hair and beards of the figures and on the edges of garments and the background of the upper part of the panel. The torse is painted green. There is blue on the folds of the Virgin's cloak and red on the folds of the cloaks of the two figures of the Trinity. There are the remains of gesso knobs on the upper background. The panel is backed with a slab of alabaster. The bottom of the panel has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Dimensions

Height: 40.5 cm, Width: 24.6 cm

Object history note

Formerly in the Musée Van Stolk, Haarlem. Acquired by Dr W. L. Hildburgh in Paris. On loan from him to the Museum since 1930. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting the Coronation of the Virgin. English, 15th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 219 (cat. 146), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0

Materials

Alabaster; Paint; Gilt

Techniques

Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Shoes; Tippet; Orb; Crown; Gown; Cloak; Torse; Belt; Pedestals; Crosses (objects)

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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