Two fragments of a painted screen from Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, with Passion imagery including the seven effusions of Christ’s blood

Julian Luxford, Lucy Wrapson

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Abstract

Two fragments of a screen painted c. 1500 in the parish church of St Michael and All Angels at Hamstall Ridware in Staffordshire are analysed with reference to their imagery, handling and original setting. Although now mounted on a modern reredos, the panels were made for use in the church, and probably formed part of the rood screen. Unusually, they were painted on the interior, east-facing sides of the screen they occupied: this can be established by analysis of the panels’ structure and the extent of the painting. The iconography is unusual in various ways. Notably, one of the panels is devoted to a cycle of images which constitute the seven sheddings of Christ’s blood. While the seven sheddings is a recognised phenomenon of late medieval devotional literature, no other image cycle of the sort is known from England. The implications of this are briefly discussed in relation to Continental evidence, and the sheddings rehearsed using an English version of about the same date as the panels in order to suggest why the parish might have wanted a painted version of the cycle and how it could have been used. The way the artist handled his subject matter is also discussed as an illustration of the fact that aesthetically undistinguished work was perfectly acceptable for solemn imagery at the ritual heart of an imposing church. While this may occasion no surprise, the fact has been very little discussed to date, despite its importance for a holistic grasp of English art of the period.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the British Archaeological Association
Volume174
Early online date11 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Medieval painting
  • Rood screens
  • Medieval parish church
  • Seven effusions of Christ's blood

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