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Core Record

Title The Seven Sorrows of Mary
Alternative Title The Ashwellthorpe Triptych
Collection Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Master of the Legend of the Magdalen (early Netherlandish painter, act.ca.1483-ca.1530)
Date Earliest 1515
Date Latest 1525
Description The most prominent figure, seated in the foreground of the centre panel, is the Virgin, and in keeping with medieval pictorial conventions she reappears several times in the background in episodes known collectively as the Seven Sorrows of Mary (the Presentation in the Temple, the Flight into Egypt, Christ and the Elders, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Lamentation and the Entombment). The kneeling donor figures represented in the wings have been identified from the coats of arms hanging from the trees and decorating their clothes as Christopher Knyvett of Ashwellthorpe in Norfolk and his wife Catherine van Assche. In addition to the central biblical message, the work very visibly commemorates the piety and the privilege of its two donors, both of whom are accompanied by their name-saint. The size of the altarpiece suggests that it was intended either for the Knyvett's residence at Ashwellthorpe or, more probably, for the family chapel in the parish church. The reverse of the wings are painted in grisaille with the figures of St John the Evangelist and St Barbara.
Current Accession Number NWHCM:1983.46:F
Former Accession Number 46.983
Subject religion (Virgin Mary, The Seven Sorrows of Mary, St Christopher, St Catherine, St John the Evangelist, St Barbara); portrait (Knyvett, Christopher, and Assche, Catherine van, as donors); figure; landscape
Measurements 64.2 cms [centre panel]; 26.7 cms [wings] x 83.9 cms [centre panel]; 83.8 cms [wings] cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Purchased from Agnew's, 1983, with grant aid from the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Fund and the National Art-Collections Fund, with additional funds from Lt Col. R. C. Allhusen, Anglia Television Ltd., Mr and Mrs Ben Burgess, the Trustees of Lord Cozens Hardy, the Hutton Trustees, Bernard Matthews plc and other local benefactors, total acquisition cost £41,024.
Provenance Probably commissioned by Christopher Knyvet of Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk; passed to the Barons Berners through the marriage of Edmund Knyvet to Jane Bourchier of Ashwellthorpe; by descent to Lord Berners, until 1908; Viscount Lee of Fareham, by 1923.
Principal Exhibitions A Decade of Collecting 1980-1990, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, 1990, cat. no. 70; Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2003 - 2004, cat. no. 276.
Publications Borenius, T., A Catalogue of the Pictures of 18 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, Collected by Viscount and Viscountess Lee of Fareham, London, 1923, no. 28; Friedlander, M. J., Early Netherlandish Painting, Leiden & Brussels, 1975, vol. 12, p. 91, no. 9, pl. 6; Master Paintings 1470-1820, Thomas Agnew and Son Ltd., London, 1982, no. 16; Martindale, A., ‘The Ashwellthorpe Triptych' in D. Williams (ed.), Early Tudor England (Proceedings of the 1987 Harlaxton Symposium), Woodbridge, 1989, pp. 107-123; Marks, R. & Williamson, P., (eds), Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547, London, 2003, pp. 21, 93 and 391, no. 276, pl. 49.
Notes Around 1700 the work was assigned a precise date of 1519, perhaps from a date found on an original (and now lost) frame.
Rights Owner Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Author Richard Johns



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