Jesse thumbnail 1
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery

Jesse

Relief
1525-1530 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved oak, with traces of paint and gesso
Brief Description
Relief, Jesse, oak, Southern Netherlands (Antwerp), ca. 1520-30
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.
Dimensions
  • Height: 58cm
  • Width: 28cm
Marks and Inscriptions
"EGO VITIS VERA"
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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.
Collection
Accession Number
A.33-1928

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record createdDecember 10, 2002
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