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English or French (?), The Wilton Diptych

Key facts
Full title Richard II presented to the Virgin and Child by his Patron Saint John the Baptist and Saints Edward and Edmund ('The Wilton Diptych')
Artist English or French (?)
Date made about 1395-9
Medium and support Egg on oak
Dimensions 53 × 37 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with a special grant and contributions from Samuel Courtauld, Viscount Rothermere, C.T. Stoop and the Art Fund, 1929
Inventory number NG4451
Location On loan: National Treasures, The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford, UK
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Wilton Diptych
English or French (?)

This small, portable diptych is one of a handful of English panel paintings to have survived from the Middle Ages. Made for Richard II, King of England from 1377 to 1399, in the last five years of his life, it combines religious and secular imagery to embody his personal conception of kingship.

On the inside the King is presented to the Virgin and Christ Child by Edmund and Edward the Confessor, England’s patron saints, and his personal patron, John the Baptist. Richard holds out his hands to give or receive the standard with the red and white cross, the arms of Saint George. Christ raises his hand to bless the standard and with it, Richard’s rule.

Richard’s emblem of a white hart, or stag, is shown on the outside, and as badges worn by the host of angels. The King adopted this symbol from his mother, but it also acted as a visual pun on his name (Richart in French).

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