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St Philip

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1440-1460 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case 7

This Apostle probably comes from the upper part of a rood-screen and is one of twelve panels held in the Museum said to have come from the town or province of Zamora, Spain (inv.nos. A.148 to 159-1922). The Apostles would have stood in a line just below the rood (a large figure of the crucified Christ). Each figure is identified by the inscription on his scroll and by a specific attribute, or symbol. Here St Philip unusually carries the emblem of a chalice (he is normally depicted carrying the three loaves). The chalice is possibly being used as a reminder of the body and blood of Christ in the Mass - and a symbol of the Feeding of the Five Thousand at which St Philip was present.

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.
Alabaster - a form of gypsum - is a comparatively soft material and is therefore easy to carve. It can also be polished. Its natural colour was especially useful for the representation of faces and flesh, which would normally remain unpainted.

Physical description

The panel has a plain border on each vertical side, and a base showing three facets in front. The haloed figure of the saint is represented characteristically beardless, wearing a gown and a cloak draped from his left and holding in his left hand, from which hangs a cloth, a chalice instead of the usual three loaves. In his right hand he holds a painted scroll (reading downwards) with the phrase of the Creed: 'Inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos' (From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead).

The saint's chin is chipped. The upper background is gilt with the remains of gesso knobs. The green foreground is decorated with the usual daisy pattern. Red paint remains in the lining of the saint's cloak. The halo is green with alternating straight and wavy lines separated by red spots. The capital letter of the inscription and the sprigs are red; only traces of black are left of the rest of the inscription. The hair of the saint, the borders of his robe and cloak and the sprigs that decorate them are gilt. Details of the eyes are painted. The chalice is gilt. The cloth is edged with black and a line of red spots. The back of the panel bears two lead-plugged holes.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1440-1460 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster


Height: 45.7 cm, Width: 14.2 cm

Object history note

From a church either in the town of Zamora in Spain or in the province of Zamora. One of the 12 panels of the Apostles' Creed Altarpiece. Latterly in the possession of G. Thomas. Gift to the Museum from the National Art Collections Fund in 1922.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting St Philip. English, 1440-1460.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 146 (cat. 75), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
Bedford, R. P. An English set of the twelve apostles in alabaster. Burlington Magazine. XLII., 1923. p. 130.

Labels and date

The Twelve Apostles
About 1450

The Apostles probably come from the upper part of a rood-screen. They would have stood in a line just below the rood (a large figure of the crucified Christ). Each figure is identified by the inscription on his scroll and by a specific attribute, or symbol.

Alabaster, with substantial traces of painting and gilding.

V&A: A.148 to 159-1922. Gift of the National Art Collections Fund
Cat. 267 [2003]


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Chalice; Halo; Cloak; Cloth; Scroll


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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