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The Wilton Diptych

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The Wilton Diptych

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The Wilton Diptych

The Wilton Diptych, painted by an unknown artist in the 1390s, is one of the finest medieval English paintings. It was commissioned by King Richard II, who is depicted kneeling in prayer before the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus, surrounded by angels. Standing behind the King are John the Baptist and two royal English saints, Edward the Confessor and Edmund of East Anglia. The Englishness of the image is reinforced by a flag bearing the cross of St George, carried by one of the angels.

The painting is a true icon, in the sense of a religious image intended for devotion. It was painted on two hinged oak panels, which could be folded up to be taken by the King on journeys. We can imagine Richard kneeling in prayer before his own kneeling image. It is named after Wilton House, home of the earls of Pembroke who once owned it. Today you can see the painting in the National Gallery in London.

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The Wilton Diptych represents one of the great pre-Reformation examples of European devotional art and is truly an icon of England's Catholic heritage which, post Reformation, the establishment has sought to eradicate, including our patron Saint, Edward the Confessor.

David Cadman


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My nomination is the garden shed.

FELICITY HAGUE

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