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Trinity with the Virgin and St John and symbols of the four Evangelists

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On display at the Charterhouse, London

This relief represents the Trinity with the Virgin and St John and symbols of the four Evangelists. It is made in England in the late 15th century.
This unusually large panel, which probably formed the centre of an altarpiece, has a canopy of cusped arches and finials which is an integral part of the panel.

The carving of alabaster, mostly quarried in Tutbury and Chellaston near Nottingham, took on industrial proportions in England between the middle of the 14th and the early 16th centuries. The market for altarpieces and smaller devotional images was a large one. It included not only religious foundations but also the merchant classes. Many hundreds of English alabasters were exported, some as far afield as Iceland and Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. Alabaster - a form of gypsum - is a comparatively soft material and is therefore easy to carve. It can also be polished. Its natural colour was especially useful for the representation of faces and flesh, which would normally remain unpainted.

Physical description

The Holy Trinity with the Virgin and St John and symbols of the Four Evangelists, alabaster relief. The crowned figure of God the Father with a forked beard and wearing a gown is in the centre of the panel, his hands raised in a blessing. Between his knees is the figure of the Crucified Christ, and at the base of the Cross is an angel holding a chalice to collect the blood; two flying angels hold chalices either side for the same purpose. A Dove carved at the top of the Cross is a modern addition. The bareheaded and youthful figure of the Virgin wearing a small crown stands on the left of the panel, while on the right is the beardless figure of St John the Evangelist holding a book in his left hand. The symbols of the Four Evangelists are with scrolls are carved in the four corners of the panel (the winged man, St Matthew upper left, the ox, St Luke, upper right, the eagle, St John lower left, the lion, St Mark, lower right). Two censing angels stand on pedestals either side of God the Father. Above all of this is a canopy of cusped arches and finials.

Place of Origin

England (made)


late 15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 71.8 cm, Width: 34.5 cm

Object history note

Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1952.

Historical context note

This relief probably formed the centre of an altarpiece.

Descriptive line

Relief, alabaster, The Trinity with the Virgin and St John and symbols of the Four Evangelists, England, late 15th century

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

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. With a catalogue of the collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 309, cat. no. 235
Hildburgh, W. L. Archaeological Journal, 3rd S. Vol. XVII, 1954, p. 20 and pl. VII
Williamson, P. (ed.), Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum (Alexandria, VA, 2010)
English Medieval Alabaster Carvings : York Festival Exhibition. York : City of York Art Gallery, 1954



Subjects depicted

Winged ox; Cusped arches; Crosses; Crowns; Censers; Winged lion; Eagles (birds); Finials; Angels; Scrolls


Sculpture; Religion; Christianity


Sculpture Collection

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