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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Antwerp (City) (made)

  • Date:

    1525-1530 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved oak, with traces of paint and gesso

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

This relief shows Jesse, the ancestor of Christ, with a tree rising from his chest to represent his lineage. This image of him was used from the 12th century. It takes its form from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah (11:1-2): '...out of his roots a flower shall spring'. In earlier examples Jesse is shown lying down. Carvers regularly used the figure of Jesse in Antwerp altarpieces made from about 1500-1550. The Antwerp guild mark of a hand is stamped on the head of the figure of Jesse as a guarantee of good workmanship. He is normally shown in the sculpture on a raised shelf at the back of the altar. Or he appears in the main part of Marian or Passion altarpieces. He is often flanked by standing prophets holding scrolls. The Tree of Jesse, with more prophets or the kings of Judah, spreads into the frame of the compartment above.

Physical description

Jesse, the progenitor of Christ, sits asleep on a wide throne with a round back. He reclines on his left arm and from his chest rise the roots and stem of a tree which disappears above into a semicircular fringed canopy with a tent-like top. A heavy curtain is suspended from the canopy and hangs down behind the throne. The base is chamfered upwards at the back to fit on a sloping surface, and several pieces of wood have been fitted to the main plank of the sculpture and carved separately, such as the front of the canopy and the left arm of the throne. The Antwerp mark of a hand is stamped into the top of Jesse's head.

Place of Origin

Antwerp (City) (made)


1525-1530 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved oak, with traces of paint and gesso

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 58 cm, Width: 28 cm

Descriptive line

Relief, Jesse, oak, Southern Netherlands (Antwerp), ca. 1520-30

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

Williamson, Paul. Netherlandish Sculpture 1450-1550. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002. p. 160.
Victoria and Albert Museum, Review of the Principal Acquisitions During the Year 1928. London. p. 2. fig. 1.


Oak; Gesso


Carving; Painting

Subjects depicted

Christianity; Throne; Throne canopy; The Tree of Jesse


Sculpture; Religion; Christianity


Sculpture Collection

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