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Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - The Ship (IV)

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - The Ship (IV), 1900

High warp tapestry, wool and silk weft on cotton warp.
2390mm x 1040mm
Presented by Miss Evangeline Middlemore, 1947.

Accession Number:



The fifth narrative panel of the Holy Grail series. A wooden ship with a single sail rising above the upper edge of the tapestry is anchored at the seashore. In the foreground grass grow amidst the sand and pebbles.


Exhibition History

1981 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
1998-99 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; Musee d'Orsay, Paris
2002-03 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery


Lady Georgiana Burne-Jones. Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones. Macmillan, London: 1903. Vol. II: p. 209.
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:

According to Christian legend the Holy Grail was the cup used at the Last Supper and during the Crucifixion to receive the blood of Christ. 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. The Holy Grail first appeared in a written text in Chretien de Troyes's Old French verse romance, the Conte del Graal ('Story of the Grail'), or Perceval, of c.1180. The Old French romances were translated into other European languages, including Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzifal (early 13th century) and Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur (late 15th century). A collaboration between Edward Burne-Jones and Morris & Co saw the creation of a series of six narrative tapestries inspired by this legend, which were originally woven for Stanmore Hall in 1891-94. The series became one of the outstanding achievements of the Arts and Crafts movement. This is the smallest panel, introducing the final sequence of the story. The knights travelled by ship for part of their journey from Logres (England) to Sarras, where the Grail was to be found. Burne-Jones's studies for the ship were drawn from scale models.