Apocalypse & the Book of Revelation
The apocalypse comes from the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, which describes the final battle between God and Satan – Armageddon. During the medieval period, scenes and images from the Book of Revelation, and the idea of the Apocalypse had a widespread influence on many aspects of culture.
The Boar and Bear Hunt Tapestry
This tapestry is one of a group of four, known as the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, made in the southern Netherlands in around 1425–30. All four tapestries depict hunting scenes; the other three are the Swan and Otter Hunt, the Deer Hunt, and Falconry. The tapestries are known to have been at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire in 1601, as they appear in an inventory compiled in that year for the Countess of Shrewsbury, owner of the Hall.
The Ascension Relief by Donatello, 1428-30
Donatello is regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of the 1400s and this marble panel is one of the finest surviving examples of his innovative work in extremely low relief. You can listen to a description of the panel, and learn more about the life of Donatello in a second audio.
The War of Troy Tapestry
The War of Troy tapestry is part of one of the most important sets of tapestry still surviving from the latter part of the 15th century. The Trojan War tapestries were made in Tournai between 1460 and 1490 and are the only set of Medieval tapestries for which the original designs still exist.
'The Adoration of the Magi' Panel by Augustin Henckel, 1500-20
This carved, painted and gilded limewood panel shows the scene at Bethlehem when the three gift-bearing kings (magi) arrived to see the infant Jesus Christ. You can listen to a description of the panel and hear excerpts about the story of the Adoration of the Magi from the Gospel of St Matthew.
Saints & Suffering
During the medieval and Renaissance periods, saints, particularly female saints, were also venerated because of the pain or martyrdom they suffered during their lives. For people living in an age where what rudimentary medicine there was was as likely to kill as to cure you, saints, who had suffered themselves, were comforting figures and a focus for prayers for recovery.
A lantern from Venice
This lantern was probably made for a galley belonging to the powerful maritime city-state of Venice. Ships of the Venetian fleet signalled to each other using large lanterns such as this, and gilded lanterns were also displayed by senior commanders as symbols of their rank.
Cosimo I de' Medici: Renaissance Patron
Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519–74) was Duke of Florence between 1537 and his death. The de’ Medicis were renowned for their patronage of the arts, and Cosimo I continued this tradition, supporting artists such as the painter, architect and biographer, Giorgio Vasari. You can listen to a description of a tapestry designed by Vasari for Cosimo I and listen to a madrigal composed by Francesco Corteccia and dedicated by him to Cosimo.
An altarpiece from Brixen
According to local tradition, this altarpiece came from the church of St Andrew in Klausen near Brixen (now Bressanone, Italy). The piece is dominated by the figure of the seated Virgin Mary with the Christ Child in her lap. You can listen to a description of the altarpiece and hear a recording by the Royal College of Music of the popular medieval Marian hymn ‘Ave Maris Stella’.
'Young Slave', wax sketch model by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)
Michelangelo destroyed many of his preparatory works, but but the growing interest in the creative process and his extraordinary celebrity led several of his contemporaries to collect his drawings and models. Learn about how artists work with wax models and their role in the sculpture process.
The St Margaret altarpiece
This imposing painted oak altarpiece tells the story of Saint Margaret of Antioch, who was martyred for refusing to renounce Christianity. You can listen to an enhanced audio description of the altarpiece and learn more about the life of St Margaret in second audio.