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Panel - The Incarnation and the Parliament of Heaven

The Incarnation and the Parliament of Heaven

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This panel in alabaster, probably made in the late 15th century England, represents the Incarnation and the Parliament of Heaven. There are no other panels of this subject recorded in English alabaster.

Physical description

The bare-headed haloed figure of the Virgin Mary, wearing a tight-fitting gown and a cloak over her shoulders, kneels at the bottom right of the panel at a desk covered by a cloth on which rests an open book. She turns at the waist, hands raised in an attitude of prayer or surprise. The figure of the angel Gabriel is not represented. The Virgin is surrounded by four female figures bearing scrolls who represent the Four Daughters of God--Mercy, Truth, Peace and Justice--who argue for and against the damnation of mankind. A long-haired female figure stands at the bottom left of the panel, wearing a fillet on her head and a gown with a short over-dress which is cut away at the waist. She holds a scroll in her left hand which is inscribed '(V)ERITAS DE (terra orta est)' indicating that she represents Truth. The female figure standing behind the figure of Truth points to two scrolls (one broken), one of which she holds in her left hand, inscribed '(Misericord) IA D(omini) PLENA ESTE (terra),' and 'MIA et VER (obviaverunt sibi),' indicating that she represents Mercy. The figure on the top right of the panel points to a scroll inscribed '(Justicia et) PAX OS(culat) AE SUT,' indicating that she represents Peace. The fourth figure bears a scroll in both hands inscribed '(et Justicia) DE CELO P(rospexit),' indicating that she represents Justice. A scroll inscribed '(Misericor) DIA TUA DNE PLENA (est terra)' hangs in the lower centre of the panel. The haloed and bearded figure of God the Father, wearing a loose-fitting robe and a cloak over his shoulders, is seated at the top left of the panel, holding an orb in his left hand and blessing with his right hand. Seated at the top right of the panel is a similar figure of God the Holy Spirit, holding a book in his left hand and blessing with his right hand. A haloed and naked figure of the Christ Child descends from God the Father in a rayed mandorla towards the Virgin.

The figure of Truth has been cracked at knee level. The Virgin's right hand is damaged. The top right corner of the panel is missing. Darkened green paint and traces of the usual daisy pattern remain on the ground. Gilding remains on hair and beards of the figures as well as on the mandorla. There are remains of gesso flowers and fleurs-de-lis on the upper background, which is also gilded. There are three holes in the back of the panel plugged with lead and with the remains of latten wire. The bottom has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)


late 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Marks and inscriptions

'These 3 reliefs were bought by Mr. Murray Marks at the Cernuschi Sale and sold to me. Others representing the Martyrdom of S. Edmund were sold by Mr. Marks to Mr. George Carmichael. E.W. Flower.'
Label; On the back of the panel.


Height: 49.6 cm, Width: 28.1 cm

Object history note

Previously bought by Mr Murray Marks from the Cernuschi sale. Acquired by Mrs Flower in 1910. In the possession of Sir Wilmot Herringham and on loan from him to the Museum. Acquired by the Museum in 1925.

Historical significance: There are no other panels of this subject recorded in English alabaster.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting the Incarnation and the Parliament of Heaven. English, late 15th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 175 (cat. 102), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
English Medieval Alabaster Carvings : York Festival Exhibition. York : City of York Art Gallery, 1954


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Robe; Halo; Gown; Desk; Orb; Book; Cloth; Scroll; Cloak


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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