The Agony in the Garden
parcel-gilt polychrome alabaster relief; in a modern giltwood surround
15 1⁄4 x 10 3⁄4 in. (38.7 x 27.3 cm.)
F. Cheetham, Alabaster Images of Medieval England, Woodbridge, 2003, p. 108, no.7.
F. Pérez Suescun, ‘Los alabastros medievales ingleses y la iconografía jacobea: algunas piezas singulares’, in Anales de Historia del Arte, XXIV, 2014, pp. 427-8, fig. 2.

F. Cheetham, English Medieval Alabasters, Oxford, 1984, p. 223, no. 150.
F. Cheetham, The Alabaster Men: Sacred Images of Medieval England, London, Daniel Katz Ltd, 2001, pp. 34-5, no. 9.

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Amelia Walker
Amelia Walker Director, Specialist Head of Private Collections

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Lot Essay

The present lot depicts a scene from the Passion of Christ known as the Agony in the Garden. It shows Christ on the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane, with three sleeping disciples. The wooden fence indicating the borders of the garden is ingeniously carved as if from a bird’s eye view, allowing the artist to also include a group of soldiers outside, an indication of what is come during the next scene in the Passion narrative, Christ’s arrest during the Betrayal. The figure of Christ is shown kneeling before a chalice, a visual representation of his words to God, as recounted in Mathew 26:39, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’. This phrase is incised in Latin on the scrolls to the left and the top of the panel.

Nottingham alabaster reliefs depicting the Agony are exceptionally rare, only seven panels including the present lot are known to have survived. Four of these are in museum collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Art Museum, Princeton (see Cheetham, 2003, loc. cit.).

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