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unknown artist fifteenth century (Nottinghamshire)

The Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin

Former Title(s):

The Assumption of the Virgin

1450 to 1500
Materials & Techniques:
Overall: 17 1/2 × 10 1/2 × 1 3/4 inches (44.5 × 26.7 × 4.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
angels | belt (costume accessory) | Bible | coronation | crown | death | flowers (plants) | girdle | halo | mandorla | Mary's death, assumption and coronation (sometimes some of the 'daughters of the Hebrews' present) | New Testament | religion | religious and mythological subject
Associated People:
The Virgin Mary
Archangel Michael
St. Thomas
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Medieval craftsmen in the Nottingham area mass-produced panels like this one from local deposits of alabaster, a fine-grained soft mineral that could be easily carved. These panels were typically painted and placed into wooden frames for altarpieces. Many were exported all across Europe, where a handful of complete Nottingham alabaster altarpieces still survive. In England, religious images such as this were ruthlessly destroyed during the Reformation, especially under the Protestant King Edward VI. This iconoclastic period brought centuries of traditional artistic practice to a sudden end. This example, which would originally have been arranged with other panels, retains much of its original painted surface and shows the Blessed Virgin Mary being assumed into heaven and crowned its queen.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

The Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, is shown being borne up to heaven by angels after her death. She appears in a mandorla, an elliptical form of a halo. On the left is the figure of St. Thomas, the doubting saint, who is said to have called up to the Virgin for a sign that she had truly risen from the dead, at which she threw him her belt; the winged figure behind him is the Archangel Michael. This sculpted image of the scene was created in the city of Nottingham in the English Midlands. Nottingham was a center for relief sculpture in alabaster, a local stone that was softly luminous in appearance and easy to carve. Typically, Nottingham alabasters were small panels that could be grouped together in wooden frames to form altarpieces. There was a demand for them throughout Europe and many were made for export. Originally they were decorated over most of their surfaces with gilding and color; on the present example these have remained unusually intact. Largely religious in purpose, richly colored, and strongly emotional, much of the art of medieval Britain was to be destroyed after the Reformation in successive waves of Protestant iconoclasm - they systematic destruction of religious images in the belief that they went against God's will.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2010

Francis W. Cheetham, Alabaster images of Medieval England, The Boydell Press, 2003, p. 99, cat. no. 93, NB1210 A4 C483 2003 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Francis W. Cheetham, The alabaster men: sacred images from medieval England, Daniel Katz Ltd., London, 2001, p. 32, 33, cat. no. 8, NB1210 A4 C482 2001 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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