Nottingham alabasters

 

One of this country's greatest artistic contributions to European culture destroyed by the political exigencies of the Tudor dynasty In the fifteenth century Nottingham was the European centre for alabaster sculpture production, sending work as far as Poland , Croatia and Spain , and especially to France . Its success was due not only to the skill of the craftsman but also of the salesmen. Why Nottingham? Probably because of the excellent quarries in  the region. Softer and easier to work than marble, this alabaster also offered a good background for the addition of colour.

Histories refer to 'mass-production' and, it is true, almost identical objects of devotion and decoration can be found hundreds of miles apart. All the same, there is an imagination and a liveliness to many of these figures and tableaux that argues for something more.

It was part of an artistic-devotional enterprise of a sort we may no longer understand, ended by the Henrician frenzy of destruction. Outside of remnants in churches, the best collections are at Nottingham Castle and the Victoria & Albert museums.

Victoria & Albert Museums - www.vam.ac.uk Nottingham Castle - www.tiny.ee/NottinghamCastle

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