The La Selle Retable : an English alabaster altarpiece in Normandy - Volume 1
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:39 by Samantha J. E. Riches
This thesis is an examination of the form, iconography and history of a highly unusual multi-panelled carved altarpiece, featuring cycles of the life of St George and of the Virgin Mary, probably dating to c.1485. The author sets the work in the context of current research into English alabaster panels, and presents an analysis of all extant documentary evidence relating to the retable. Comparisons are drawn with both visual cycles and individual subjects of the lives of St George and the Virgin in both alabaster and other media, and also hagiographical writing, to demonstrate that the atypical iconography of the work is likely to have arisen as the result of a direct commission from a Norman patron. The medieval cult of St George in Normandy is considered, also the distribution of English alabasters in the region, and the likely source of the commission is named as the Abbey Saint-Sauveur of Evreux, a community of Benedictine nuns. Consideration is given to the historical links between Saint-Sauveur and the hamlet of La Selle, and various possibilities are considered which may explain the reasons why the retable was moved to the hamlet. Finally, possible areas for future research are outlined.