Lot 13
  • 13

English, Nottingham, mid-15th century

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Retable with the Virgin and Child accompanied by female saints
  • partially polychromed and gilt alabaster
  • English, Nottingham, mid-15th century
St Catherine of Alexandria and St Margaret with illegible inscriptions in paint on the ground and each of the saints with tape labels numbered: 1 to 4 respectively


probably ordered by Diego García de Moldes, for the Capilla de Nuestra Señora del Campo, the chapel at the family house in Castropol, Asturias, Spain, consecrated in 1461;
mentioned in the will of Pedro García de Moldes y Castrillón, 1641;
thence by descent to the present owner


Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Salvador, Oviedo, Origines arte y cultura en Asturias. Siglos VII-XV, 1993, no. 283


F.J. Fernandez Conde and M. Morales Saro (eds.), Origines arte y cultura en Asturias. Siglos VII-XV, exhib. cat. Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo, 1993, pp. 456-457, no. 283
F. de Caso Fernandez, El arte gótico en Asturias, Gijón, 1999, p. 154
A. Franco Mata, El retablo gótico Cartagena y los alabastres ingleses en España, Murcia, 1999, pp. 57, 65 and 106-107, figs. 14 and 114-117

Catalogue Note

Aside from its exhibition in the cathedral of Oviedo in 1993, this is the first time in 550 years that the present altarpiece has left a small family chapel in Asturias in the North of Spain.

The geographical location of Asturias made it an important harbour for trade with the English. The town of Castropol, near the estuary of the Ria de Ribadeo, profited immensely from this relationship. This is illustrated by the rise to prominence of the town's leading family, the García de Moldes, in the 15th century. This enabled the family's head, the seafarer Don Diego García de Moldes, to erect a family seat and chapel according to the latest taste. It is not surprising that he turned to the English for the decoration of the chapel.

Alabaster was quarried from the Middle Ages onwards near Derby. Initially the alabaster was used for local tombs but as the malleability and abundance of the stone became apparent workshops began producing the now famous figures and reliefs illustrating the lives of Christ, the Virgin and the Saints. Although these objects were carved in a number of places such as Burton-on-Trent, Chellaston, York and even London, it was Nottingham which was the major centre for production. The trade in English alabasters became international by the fifteenth century and altarpieces can still be found in churches as far north as Iceland as far south as Zaragoza.

F. Cheetham, English Medieval Alabasters. With a catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Oxford, 1984; A. Franco Mata, El retablo gótico Cartagena y los alabastres ingleses en España, Murcia, 1999; F. Cheetham, Alabaster Images of Medieval England, Woodbridge, 2003