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

By Francis Cheetham

From the overdue 1300s to the Reformation, alabaster carving used to be a massive task within the English Midlands, in a space focused on Nottingham. Altarpieces and panels have been produced for the house industry, but in addition for export; the sculptures have a particular kind, dictated by way of the non secular matters and through the fabric, and have been often painted and gilded. on the Reformation, such goods have been hidden or destroyed, and it's the survival of various continental examples, rather in France, including the remainder examples from England, that allows the heritage of alabaster carving to be documented. This publication 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, fairly on the subject of the iconography of the carvings. The overdue FRANCIS CHEETHAM used to be additionally the writer of English Medieval Alabasters, containing a listing of the gathering within the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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Christ stepping directly onto a recumbent soldier is a common feature on many of the Resurrection panels, and a feature that Dr Hildburgh saw as inspired by the medieval drama (Hildburgh 1949a), and it is a detail which is rare in Continental art. The so-called ‘Despenser’ wooden painted retable of about 1400 in Norwich Cathedral also incorporates this feature in its Resurrection panel. However, these are the exceptions. The designs used by the alabaster carvers were also those of the painters, sculptors, illustrators and printmakers of all Western Christendom.

Wolsey, 71–2 Buckingham Gate, London (1950s) (35) Fragment 11 Provinzial Museum, Münster, Westfalen, Germany Fragment 12 Chapel of Breuil-Benoit, Marcilly sur Eure, France Sold in 1997 13 D. 5 Cheetham 2001, 23, illus. 6 × – Tavender 1955, 69, no. 50, pl. 8 Cheetham 1984, 101, cat. 30, illus. 1 Hildburgh 1937a, 188, pl. LII, no. 1 1 Victoria and Albert Museum, London 60 × 22 Cheetham 1984, 102, cat. 31, illus. 2 Cloisters Museum New York Evidently ‘de-accessed’ 40 × 6 Hildburgh 1928, 68, pl. XVIII, fig.

I, XIV). While most of the alabaster saints were popular, a few more obscure ones are to be found, for example the uncanonised Henry VI (two examples are recorded), who was believed to have produced miracles at his tomb at Chertsey, and later at Windsor. St Armel also has two recorded examples. His cult was encouraged by Henry VII, who believed that he was saved from shipwreck off the coast of Brittany through the saint’s intercession. Part of the skull of St John the Baptist was brought to Amiens Cathedral from the east in 1206, and this precious relic seems to have stimulated artistic interest.

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