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Relief - David Finds the Rods have Taken Root and Become One Tree
  • David Finds the Rods have Taken Root and Become One Tree
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David Finds the Rods have Taken Root and Become One Tree

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Brussels (probably, made)
    Netherlands (Southern, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved oak

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case 1

In northern Europe the altarpiece was the most important type of sculpture in wood. The structure of a winged altarpiece was dominated by the central panel, the corpus, and its figures. The wings carried relief carvings, figures or narrative paintings. The predella often contained busts of apostles or saints. The crowning superstructure was usually decorated with finials and small figures. On certain days and during Lent the corpus and the predella were closed from view.

The subject-matter of this series of reliefs (Museum nos 114 to 114A to F-1908) is extremely unusual. They almost certainly belonged to a larger cycle of the Legend of the True Cross. Woodcuts published by the printer Johan Velderner in Culemborg in 1483 have helped to identify them. This one is: David finds the rods have taken root and have become one tree. The unusual subject-matter suggests that the altarpiece to which the reliefs belonged was specially commissioned. The theme of the decoration would have been based on the dedication of the chapel or church for which the altarpiece was intended. The size, form and construction of the reliefs suggest that they originally formed part of a large altarpiece. They were probably set into the voussoirs or hollows of the frame flanking the major scenes.

Place of Origin

Brussels (probably, made)
Netherlands (Southern, made)


ca. 1500 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved oak


Height: 14 cm

Object history note

These reliefs are almost certainly from a larger series depicting the Legend of the True Cross. They may have been set into frame of a large altarpiece, where they would have flanked the Crucifixion or other main subjects. Alternatively, they come from an altarpiece partially or entirely dedicated to the Legend of the True Cross.
Bought, £341 15s. 6d.

Descriptive line

Relief, one of seven episodes, oak, David Finds the Rods have Taken Root and Become One Tree, Southern Netherlands, ca. 1500

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

Williamson, Paul, Netherlandish Sculpture 1450-1550, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002. 160p., ill. ISBN 1851773738.
List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Years 1905 - 1908. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, During the Year 1908, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition with Appendix and Indices. London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, 1909, p. 23





Subjects depicted

Tree; Figures (representations); Christianity


Sculpture; Religion; Christianity


Sculpture Collection

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