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Panel - St Anne teaching the Christ Child to read

St Anne teaching the Christ Child to read

  • 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 apparently unique panel shows a variation on the theme of St Anne teaching the Virgin to read. According to legend, Christ did not have to be taught to read. This panel has been skilfully but incorrectly restored at the top left and the Virgin would originally have been crowned.

Physical description

St. Anne, mother of the Virgin, is shown on the left of the panel, holding an open book in her left hand and a pointer in her right. She wears a barbe under her chin and a veil with a peaked hood over her head. She also wears a long girded gown, a loose cloak and shoes. The Virgin is on the right of the panel. Her head has been skilfully but wrongly restored as veiled, rather than as crowned as she is usually represented when holding a sceptre. She wears a close-fitting gown, a cloak draped from her left shoulder and shoes. On her right arm she holds the Christ Child, who looks up at her; he wears a gown and a cloak, and holds an orb in his hands.

The top of the Virgin's sceptre is missing. The panel has been broken away at the top, where some skilful but erroneous restoration has taken place; the head of the Virgin is totally restored. Green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the ground at the bottom of the panel. Traces of gilding remain on the figures. There is some blue on St. Anne's cloak. The panel has been backed with a thicker and slightly larger alabaster slab.

Place of Origin

England (made)


15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster


Height: 43.5 cm, Width: 25.6 cm

Object history note

Discovered at Bruniquel, near Montauban. Acquired by P. Nelson from whom Dr W.L. Hildburgh acquired the piece. On loan to the Museum from Dr Hildburgh since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Historical significance: The theme of this panel appears to be unique. The panel is a variation of the more common theme of St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting St Anne teaching the Christ Child to read. English, 15th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 74 (cat. 3), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Book; Gown; Cloak; Orb; Shoes; Veil; Sceptre


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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