Book Series Painting and Practice, vol. 2

The Westminster Retable. History, Technique, Conservation

Paul Binski, Ann Massing (eds)

  • Pages: 464 p.
  • Size:238 x 280 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2009

  • ISBN: 978-1-905375-28-8
  • Hardback
  • Available


"For art historians of the Middle Ages and conservators, this book will remain an exemplary opus in its own right."    (Richard Marks, in The Art Newspaper 214, June 2010)

"This substantial and sumptuously illustrated volume brings together a wealth of up-to-date art-historical and technical information concerning the celebrated thirteenth-century Westminster retable following its recent painstaking conservation at the Hamilton Kerr Institute in Cambridge." (Simon Watney, in: The Burlington Magazine, May 2010, CLII, p. 327)


The late 13th-century Westminster Retable is rightly celebrated as one of the most beautiful and enigmatic panel paintings to have survived from medieval Europe. Its history is not without tragedy. It was made in the Westminster Abbey, one of the most prestigious Gothic churches of the thirteenth century, itself a treasure-house of medieval wall and panel painting; then, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was demoted rapidly to use as part of a large cupboard; its ruination in the eighteenth century just pre-dated the Gothic Revival and its rediscovery and rescue. Since then, it has intrigued commentators because of its extraordinary technical mastery, its value as an ornamental resource for study and, more recently, as an important if fragmentary link in the history of painting in England and France in the thirteenth century. There is every reason to believe that its standing as an artwork was apparent even in the Middle Ages, and that, in short, it may be seen as one of the central monuments of Anglo-French Gothic painting.