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Not currently on display at the V&A

The Trinity

Fragment of a Panel
second half 15th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is an alabaster panel fragment, depicting the Trinity made in England in the second half of the 15th century. This fragment is the lower part of a tall panel. God the Father is enthroned in the centre with a cross bearing the figure of Christ between his knees. Christ with his head inclined to the left, is represented with long hair wearing a torse and loin cloth. There is a dowel hole just above the top of the cross which presumably held the Dove representing the third person of the Trinity.

There are two sorts of alabaster. Calcite alabaster is very hard and was used in ancient times. This object is made of gypsum alabaster which is a fine-grained, soft and smooth stone. Although at first glance it looks a little like marble, which it was intended to imitate, it was much easier to carve due to its softness, and alabaster objects were therefore significantly cheaper to produce. Marble does not originate in England, so it was imported if needed.

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved, painted and gilt alabaster
Brief Description
Panel (fragment), alabaster, depicting the Trinity, England, second half of 15th century
Physical Description
The fragment is the lower part of a tall panel. God the Father (head and hands missing), wearing a gown and a cloak draped over his knees is enthroned in the centre of the panel with the cross bearing the figure of Christ between his knees. Christ, his head inclined to the left is represented with long hair over his shoulders, wearing the torse and loincloth. Two angels kneel at the base of the cross, each with one hand resting on the knee. There is a dowel hole just above the top of the cross which presumably held the Dove representing the third person of the Trinity.



A considerable part of the panel is missing. Both the kneeling angels at the foot of the cross have an arm missing. Christ's feet and their support on the cross are damaged. Well-preserved green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the ground. Red paint remains on the angel's wings and on the folds of the robes of God the Father. Traces of gilding remain on Christ's hair. There are traces of green on the torse. There are two lead-plugged holes with latten wires attached in the back of the panel. The bottom has been cut away.
Dimensions
  • Height: 39.8cm
  • Width: 26.6cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'Alabaster Slab XIV Cent: Formerly in Yarnton Ch: Oxfordshire. Subject The Holy Trinity with adoring angels. Property of E. Holmes Jewitt, West Bank, nr. Lancaster' (Label; On the back of the fragment.)
Credit line
Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA
Object history
Found in the church at Yarnton, Oxfordshire. Formerly in the collection of E. Homes Jewitt. Later in the possession of P. Nelson from whom it was acquired by Dr W. L. Hildburgh. On loan from him since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This is an alabaster panel fragment, depicting the Trinity made in England in the second half of the 15th century. This fragment is the lower part of a tall panel. God the Father is enthroned in the centre with a cross bearing the figure of Christ between his knees. Christ with his head inclined to the left, is represented with long hair wearing a torse and loin cloth. There is a dowel hole just above the top of the cross which presumably held the Dove representing the third person of the Trinity.



There are two sorts of alabaster. Calcite alabaster is very hard and was used in ancient times. This object is made of gypsum alabaster which is a fine-grained, soft and smooth stone. Although at first glance it looks a little like marble, which it was intended to imitate, it was much easier to carve due to its softness, and alabaster objects were therefore significantly cheaper to produce. Marble does not originate in England, so it was imported if needed.



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.
Bibliographic Reference
Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 305 (cat. 231), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0
Collection
Accession Number
A.117-1946

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record createdNovember 20, 2002
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