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Hamilton Kerr Institute

Fitzwilliam Museum

Published in 2009

The Westminster Retable: History, technique, conservation (Painting and Practice)

The late 13th-century Westminster Retable is rightly celebrated as one of the most beautiful and enigmatic panel paintings to have survived from medieval Europe.

Its history is not without tragedy. It was made in Westminster Abbey, one of the most prestigious Gothic churches of the thirteenth century; a treasure-house of medieval wall and panel painting.

However, following the dissolution of the monasteries, it was used as part of a large cupboard. The Gothic Revival eventually lead to its rediscovery and rescue.

Since that time,  it has intrigued commentators due to: its extraordinary technical mastery; its value as an ornamental resource for study; and, more recently, as an important if fragmentary link to the history of painting in England and France in the thirteenth century.

There is every reason to believe that its standing as an artwork was apparent even in the Middle Ages. It may be seen as one of the central monuments of Anglo-French Gothic painting.

There is more information about the retable on our website.

Hardback: ISBN 978-1-905375-28-8