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Wilton diptych

Wilton diptych. A small portable altarpiece of two hinged oak panels, painted and gilded on both sides, almost certainly intended for the private devotions of Richard II. Resplendent with exquisite tooling and expensive pigments, its artist is unknown and the date, author, and motive of commission remain uncertain. A rich but cryptic icon of priestly views of kingship, ambiguous figures of Richard with SS Edmund, Edward the Confessor, and John the Baptist face the Virgin and Child with angels; on the exterior a white hart (Richard's personal emblem) lies couchant, adjacent to other heraldic emblems and arms. It was first recorded in the collection of Charles I, then reputedly given by James II to Lord Castlemaine, before purchase by the earls of Pembroke at Wilton House, from which it takes its name, but has been in the National Gallery since 1929.

A. S. Hargreaves

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