Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Despenser Retable

Few panel paintings survived the English Reformation. This is one of them. It's known as the Despenser Retable and it's housed in Norwich Cathedral. It got through because someone repurposed it as a table top- with the painted side facing down. A strip along the top has been lost- and sensitively repainted in the central image of the crucifixion- but otherwise it's in remarkably good condition.

It dates from the 1380s. We don't know the name of the artist but he/she was probably local. It was commissioned by Henry Despenser, Bishop of Norwich- a remarkably warlike churchman- famous for crushing the forces of the Peasants Revolt at Walsham in 1381.

It's as good as anything being done on the continent in the same period.

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