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Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - The Arming and Departure of the Knights (II)

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - The Arming and Departure of the Knights (II), 1895 - 1896

High warp tapestry, wool and silk weft on cotton warp.
3600mm x 2440mm
Purchased by public subscription from Morris & Co, 1907.

Accession Number:



Second narrative panel from Holy Grail Series. It depicts the ladies of Camelot assisting the knights in preparation for their quest. In allusion to their adulterous relationship, Queen Guinevere hands Sir Lancelot his shield.


Exhibition History

1981 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
1998-99 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; Musee d'Orsay, Paris
2003 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery


A B Bence-Jones. The Holy Grail Tapestries. unpublished, Victoria & Albert Museum: 1895. manuscript.
Lady Georgiana Burne-Jones. Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones. Macmillan, London: 1904. Vol. II: p. 208.
Linda Parry. William Morris. Victoria & Albert Museum, London: 1996. p. 232.
Christopher Wood. Burne-Jones. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London: 1998. p. 116.
Nicholas Tromans. Pre-Raphaelites and Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection. Royal Academy of Arts, London: 2003. pp. 242-243.

Research Information:

One of 3 woven in 1895-6 for the drawing room of Compton Hall, Laurence Hodson's house near Wolverhampton. Sold back to Morris & Co. by Hodson in 1906, and bought through public subscription by BMAG in 1907.

According to Christian legend, the Holy Grail was the cup used at the Last Supper by Christ, then used at the Crucifixion to receive the blood of Christ that was spilled. It was brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, where it lay hidden for centuries. The search for the vessel became the principal quest of the knights of King Arthur. Although Burne-Jones stated that the scenes for the tapestries were not set at any particular period, the costumes are loosely based on those of the 12th century. Inspiration was probably taken from Henry Shaw's 'Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages', which was a popular source book for historical costume, and known to the artist.