Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Eve And Jesse

The nave vault at Tewkesbury dates from the 1340s- and is in the style known (with good reason) as "decorated". Here's a section of it at the east end. The central bosses represent incidents in the life of Christ- the others are miscellaneous.

The sequence begins (or terminates) at the west end in two large figures- a young woman and an old man- traditionally identified as "Eve" and "Jesse". This is an odd pairing and I doubt that the names are right (would Eve be pictured wearing a collar and bracelets?) and suggest they represent abstractions instead. How about "Truth" for "Eve" and "Wisdom" for Jesse"? Or- to be cabalistic (and why not- these things were made by masons)- "Netzach" and "Hod" or even "Binah" and "Chokmah"- the eternal female and the eternal male? Last time I was in the Abbey I had a camera with a zoom that wasn't up to reaching them; this time I arrived better equipped. They are unlike anything else I know in English medieval art- but since so much of it was destroyed at the Reformation this isn't particularly surprising. We must be grateful that when the iconoclasts showed up at Tewkesbury they neglected to bring long ladders with them- and didn't have time to erect scaffolding.

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