An alabaster relief of the Pietà, early 16th Century.

This is a fine example of its type, retaining traces of original bright-painted decoration, and may well have belonged to William Cecil, Lord Burghley. It was certainly at Burghley in 1688, when the famous Inventory records it in “My Ladyes Anty Roome and Clossett”, under the heading “China over the chimney” as “A Virgin Mary with Our Saviour in armes in Allablaster.” Height 43.2cm, width 28cm, depth 19cm.

The figure has long been considered to be either Flemish or German, but expert opinion is now that it is, in fact, English, and from Nottingham. The alabaster contains the reddish veining typical of the fauld mines in the Midlands and the reverse of the sculpture is consistent with English alabaster sculpture.


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