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EDWARD COLEY BURNE-JONES

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Verdure with Deer and Shields (VI)
 

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Verdure with Deer and Shields (VI), 1900

Medium:
High warp tapestry, wool and silk weft on cotton warp.
Dimensions:
3152mm x 1550mm
Inscription:
For full inscription, please see Research Information.
Provenance:
Presented by Miss Evangeline Middlemore, 1947.

Accession Number:

1947M53

Description:

Inscription identifies coats of arms on shields: from left; Sir Gawaine (double-headed eagle), Sir Launcelot (red and white bars), Sir Percival (crosses, black star), Sir Bors (white bars, ermine and red bars),Sir Galahad(red cross on white).

 

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

Bibliography:

Anonymous. Gyron le Courtois, avec la devise des armes des Chevaliers des la table ronde. Paris: 1520 . n/a.
A B Bence-Jones. The Holy Grail Tapestries. Victoria & Albert Museum, London : 1895. n/a.
Lady Georgiana Burne-Jones. Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones. Macmillan, London: 1903. Vol. II: p. 211.
Emmeline Leary. The Holy Grail Tapestries: Designed by Edward Burne-Jones for Morris & Co.. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: 1985. n/a.
Linda Parry. William Morris. Victoria & Albert Museum, London: 1996. p. 232.
Christopher Wood. Burne-Jones. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London: 1998. p. 117 & inside front & back cover.
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. The Verdure was designed to be hung beneath the narrative scenes in the dining room at Stanmore Hall. As the knights are fictional characters, they have not been granted actual coats-of-arms, so William Morris attributed devices to them from literary sources and designed the shields seen here. An inscription along the top identifies the coats of arms, from the left; Sir Gawaine (double-headed eagle), Sir Launcelot (red and white bars), Sir Percival (crosses with black star), Sir Bors (white bars with ermine and red bars), and Sir Galahad (red cross on white).

The full inscription on the tapestry is: ' these are the arms of certain knights of the round table bidden to seek the sangraal who departed on the quest whatever might befal [sic] but of those that thus departed these are the chiefest sir gawaine of orkney, sir lancelot, sir hector de marys, sir bors, sir perceval, and sir galahad'