AN IMPORTANT PAIR OF 15TH CENTURY ENGLISH CARVED OAK PANELS FROM A RETABLE.
These stunningly rare panels depict scenes from the Life of Christ: Pilate washing his hands and the Arrest of Christ on the first panel; Christ bearing the Cross on the second. Their large size (18" x 14"), thickness (1.5") and subject matter indicate they would have once formed part of a much larger narrative Passion cycle in a retable from a larger altar dedicated to Christ. Although more vernacular in execution, the style is strongly related to 15th-century English alabaster panels, especially in the crowding of the scenes with numerous bystanders, many of whom are represented as disembodied faces.The majority of surviving English alabaster panels depict scenes from the Life of Christ and, like a set of five panels at the V&A ,once formed part of Passion Cycle altarpieces. The oak panels were likely part of a wood carvers version of such a altarpiece, commissioned for a parish church which could not afford or did not have access to the costly alabaster. The deep purple-red, coarse-grained oak is characteristic of timber from the North of England, probably Cumbria or Lancashire.
Although many alabaster panels survive because they were exported in large numbers to the Continent, I am aware of no other related wooden panels in either public or private hands.
PROVENANCE: FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION.
STOCK NO 1562.