Alabaster Images of Medieval England (Museum of London by Francis Cheetham

By Francis Cheetham

From the past due 1300s to the Reformation, alabaster carving was once an important task within the English Midlands, in a space targeted on Nottingham. Altarpieces and panels have been produced for the house marketplace, but in addition for export; the sculptures have a particular type, dictated through the spiritual matters and by way of the cloth, and have been frequently painted and gilded. on the Reformation, such goods have been hidden or destroyed, and it's the survival of diverse continental examples, relatively in France, including the remainder examples from England, that allows the historical past of alabaster carving to be documented. This e-book catalogues a few 2,400 carvings, with their place and released references, coupled with a Geographical Index. it's the fullest catalogue but compiled on those beautiful small-scale sculptures, incorporating a lot new info, rather with regards to the iconography of the carvings. The past due FRANCIS CHEETHAM was once additionally the writer of English Medieval Alabasters, containing a listing of the gathering within the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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5). The theme is further developed with the substitution of the Jesus Pity with the Virgin and Child. This rare symbolism is to be found on only two carvings. Here the connection of the Virgin mother with the body of Christ as a young child is shown. On some of the alabaster heads a wound is shown on the brow, indicating where the mother of Salome, Herodias, according to legend stabbed the severed head (fig. 5). A hole above the left eyebrow of the relic in Amiens may have given rise to this legend and its subsequent manifestation in art.

On the foliage a dove representing the Holy Spirit is resting (Anderson 1955, 98). There are four surviving panels of prophets from Te Deum altarpieces showing such Old Testament prophets as Isaiah and Moses (as well as the New Testament St John the Baptist). Panels of the Trinity are very common and clearly derive from the earlier images of Abraham holding the souls of the blessed to his bosom, illustrating the text, which is from the Gospels but refers to the Old Testament Patriarch, ‘And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom’ (Luke 16:22).

The midwives of the Nativity/Adoration also derive from the Golden Legend (Voragine 1993, vol. I, 38). One midwife, Zebel, is to be seen on the fourteenth-century horizontal panels of the Adoration of the Magi, and together with the second midwife, Salome, is depicted on the fifteenth-century Adorations of the Magi with Mary and Joseph (fig. 14). The ‘wise men from the east’ of the Gospels are described in the Golden Legend as three kings and are given the names of Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior (Voragine 1993, vol.

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