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Panel - The Three Marys at the Sepulchre

The Three Marys at the Sepulchre

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This alabaster panel is representing the Three Maries and the Sepulchre, made in 15th century in England.

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

Mary Magdalene, haloed and wearing a barbette, a fillet decorated with a brooch and a sideless surcoat over a dress, stands in the centre of the panel behind the tomb. Her head is inclined to the right, her left hand raised, and she holds an ointment pot in her right hand. A second female figure veiled and wearing a close-fitting gown stands on her left, holding an oinment pot in her left hand and leaning to pick up the shroud from the empty tomb. The third Mary, also holding an ointment pot, stands behind her in the top right-hand corner of the panel, looking down into the tomb. An angel wearing a tiara surmounted with a cross front and back and a cloak fastened with a brooch, stands behind the tomb on the left of the panel, holding the shroud in his left hand. His right hand is raised, with a scroll on which the original painted inscription is no longer legible. Another angel, wearing a similar headdress, kneels in front of the tomb, beside the lid which is set diagonally against it. Two curious stylized trees, presumably representing palms, are carved in front of the tomb on the left of the panel. The top right and lower left corners of the panel are missing. The left corner of the tomb is chipped. Red paint and gilding remain on the background at the top of the panel, the red paint here seeming to be the primer for the gilding. Slight traces of the usual daisy pattern remain on the heavily darkened green ground. The two angels' wings are painted red and black with a little gilding. The halo behind Mary Magdalene is gilt on a now darkened blue. Traces of gesso knobs are on the upper background. There are three lead-plugged holes in the back of the panel, one with latten wires attached. The bottom is cut away. There are four parallel marks incised.

Place of Origin

England (made)


15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Marks and inscriptions

'Albâtre du XIV siècle représentant les saintes femmes au tombeau et provenant de l'ancienne chapelle du palais de Philippe Auguste à Rouen.'
Label; On the back of the panel.


Height: 52.8 cm, Width: 30.4 cm

Object history note

Acquired by Dr W. L. Hildburgh in Paris. On loan to the Museum from Dr Hildburgh since March 1950. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1950.

Descriptive line

Panel, alabaster, depicting the Three Marys at the Sepulchre, English, 15th century

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 283 (cat. 210), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Palm trees; Halo; Cross; Tomb; Scroll; Cloak; Gown; Brooch; Dress; Veil; Shroud; Tiara; Pot; Angel


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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