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Head of St John the Baptist

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:

    A.127B-1946

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The head of St John the Baptist is shown on a dish. Above the head two angels hold a small figure in a napkin representing the soul of the saint. Below, Christ is shown as the Man of Sorrows and on the right of the panel is St Thomas Becket.

Physical description

The head of St. John the Baptist is shown on a dish. The head has a rounded beard with a moustache, upper lip half clean-shaven, three points of curly hair on the forehead and three pointed locks on each side of the head. Above the head two angels hold a small figure (head and shoulders visible) in a napkin, representing the soul of the saint. Below, Christ, the Man of Sorrows, bearded and wearing the torse stands in the tomb, right hand indicating the wound in his side, his left hand resting on the front edge of the tomb. On the left of the panel kneels the bearded St. Peter, wearing a girded alb and a cloak; he holds a key in his right hand and a closed book in his left, which is covered by the cloak. On the right of the panel kneels the mitred figure of an archbishop, probably St. Thomas Becket, similarly dressed; he holds a cross-staff in his left hand and a closed book in his right, which is covered by his cloak. Above the figure of St. Peter stands St. James the Great, bearded, wearing a hat, gown and cloak, and holding a closed book in his left hand and a staff in his right. Above the figure of the archbishop stands a bearded saint, probably St. Antony, wearing tippet and gown, holding a closed book in his right hand and a staff in his left.

The face of the left-hand angel is damaged and the head of the right-hand angel is missing. Green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the lower ground. There are traces of red on the folds of the garments. The hair and beard of the Baptist have traces of a brownish paint and gilding. The panel has been backed with slate and plaster.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

late 15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Dimensions

Height: 29 cm, Width: 18.7 cm

Object history note

Believed to have been found at Wells. In the possession of G. Thomas. Acquired by P. Nelson. Acquired by Dr W.L. Hildburgh from P. Nelson. On loan from Dr Hildburgh to the Museum from 1926. Given by W. L. Hildburgh in 1946.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting the head of St John the Baptist. English, late 15th century.

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 331 (cat. 255), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0

Materials

Alabaster; Paint; Gilt

Techniques

Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Book; Mitre; Angel; Torse; Alb; Tippet; Tomb; Hat; Key; Cloak; Dish; Staff; Staff

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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