Alabaster was quarried near Derby, west of Nottingham, from the Middle Ages onwards. Initially it was used in tomb carving and although unsuitable for outdoor use its popularity increased and it was carved as figures and reliefs illustrating the Life of Christ and the Saints. It was easy to carve as well as to paint with vivid medieval paints, which in many instances remain. By the fifteenth century, an international trade for such reliefs was in existence with examples reaching as far north as Iceland and as far south as Spain and the Mediterranean (see the magnificent altarpiece from Castropol in Spain, which was sold at Sotheby's on 5 December 2012, lot 13). Although these sculptures were carved in a number of places, such as Burton-on-Trent, Chellaston, York and even London, it was Nottingham that was the major centre for production. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the industry suffered as the number of commissions shrank away, dying out completely by the end of the reign of King Henry VIII in 1547.
W.L. Hildburgh, 'Medieval English alabaster figures of the Virgin and Child - I: Our Lady standing', Burlington Magazine LXXXVIII, 1946, pp. 30-33 and 35; F. Cheetham, English medieval alabasters. With a catalogue of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Oxford, 1984, p. 191, no. 118; F. Cheetham, Alabaster images of medieval England, Woodbridge, 2003, p. 89-90
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