Roodloft from ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Roodloft from ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Straddling the gallery is an extremely rare example of a Baroque roodloft located outside a church.  A roodloft is a gallery on which the rood (literally, cross) was displayed to the congregation. Often the cross was flanked by figures of the Virgin Mary and St John. The roodloft acted as a screen between the nave and the chancel, separating the congregation from the altar and priests.

This roodloft was erected between 1610 and 1613 in the cathedral of St John at 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. It was taken down during the restoration of the building in 1866, because it obstructed the view of the high altar, and sold to an art dealer, who in turn sold it to the V&A.

The sculptor, Conrad van Norenberch from Namur, closely modelled the design on the roodloft in Antwerp Cathedral. Its vaulted arcade has an opening in the middle and niches at the sides for statues of saints. Above are four figures bearing coats-of-arms alternating with three statues of the 'cardinal virtues' - Faith, Charity and Hope. The relief panels over the arches show biblical scenes. Between the arches, and reading left to right, are figures of St Peter, the Virgin and Child, St John the Evangelist and St Paul.