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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.127C-1946

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This panel has a battlemented canopy with four turrets. On a dish there is the head of St John the Baptist. To the right of the panel there is a mitred figure of an archbishop, probably St Thomas Becket, wearing a girded alb and amice and a cloak fastened with a brooch.

Physical description

The panel has a battlemented canopy with four turrets. On a dish is the head of St. John the Baptist, wearing a bifid beard and a moustache; his hair is in five points on his forehead, and on either side of the face it is divided into four locks. The mouth is open with the teeth carved. The wound made by Herodias is represented over the left eyebrow. Above the head two angels, one hand raised, bear a small head in a napkin, representing the soul of the saint. Below the head is our Lord's Pity with Christ in a mandorla standing in the tomb. He wears the torse and a loincloth; his right hand is held under the wound on his body and his left grasps the edge of the tomb. To the left of the tomb stands the bearded and tonsured St. Peter, wearing an alb and amice and a cloak fastened with a brooch; he holds a closed book in his left hand and a key in his right. To the right of the panel stands a mitred figure of an archbishop, probably St. Thomas Becket, wearing a girded alb and amice and a cloak fastened with a brooch; he holds a cross-staff in his left hand and blesses with his right.

There is a break across the top right corner of the panel. The head of the angel on the right is damaged. The key of St. Peter is damaged. Green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the lower ground. The eyes of the figures are painted brown and the beards and hair gilded. There is red paint on the mouth and wound on the head of St. John the Baptist. The edge of the dish and the folds of the cloak of St. Peter are also coloured red. The angels' wings are red with decoration in black and white. The back of the mandorla is dark green. The back of the panel is marked with an 'X.' There are two lead-filled holes, one with the remains of a latten wire. The bottom has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

late 15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Marks and inscriptions

'X'
On the back of the panel.

Dimensions

Height: 30.6 cm, Width: 17 cm

Object history note

Formerly in the Caldicott Collection (Hastings). On loan to the Museum from Dr W.L. Hildburgh since 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. 325 (cat. 249), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0

Materials

Alabaster; Paint; Gilt

Techniques

Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Brooch; Book; Cloak; Torse; Amice; Turret; Canopies (structural elements); Mitre; Staff; Angel; Tomb; Key; Dish; Alb; Loincloths

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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