The Tate Altarpiece

Tate panelThese four panels are all that are known to remain of a winged triptych, possibly by a Flemish artist from Bruges and commissioned around 1500. It bears arms known to be Tate/Wood.

In the 16th century the painting disappeared until the present panels were found in the 18th century. The four panels remaining were originally in pairs, back to back, forming the wings of an altarpiece. The present arrangement was made by Horace Walpole of Strawberry Hill, who had them in his collection. In 1947 the panels were returned on loan to All Hallows and then given to the church by Tate & Lyle in 1957.

The missing centre panel is thought to have been "The Adoration of the Magi". Originally with the wings open the present outer panels would be seen portraying Sir Robert Tate (kneeling) with St John the Baptist holding the font and, on the opposite side, St Joseph in peasant clogs with part of the manger. With the wings closed the panel would have looked exactly as they do as present showing on the left St Ambrose of Milan and St Jerome with his Lion. The character of the background landscape is Northern Flemish and the the city on the left is possibly Bruges.

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