Eighty-seven

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The Wilton Diptych

c1395-9, French or English
The National Gallery

Postcard seventy-seven was the White Hart, the majestic stag that sits on the back of The Wilton Diptych. The front is perhaps better known, showing King Richard II (1377-1399) being presenting to the Virgin and child. The majesty in this piece lies in the luxury of gold that adorns the canvas; gilt wood providing a glittering setting for the scene Richard II intends us to celebrate. This piece, though beautiful in its own right, is also a spectacular piece of propaganda; Richard II kneels accompanied by his patron Saint — John the Baptist — looking towards the flocking angels that all have the White Hart emblem tied to their breast. Though clearly from Heaven they are branded with support, the White Hart being Richard II’s particular symbol, as well as holding St. George’s flying flag. This, however, does little to distract from the delicacy the angels are painted with; their fragile features mirroring that of the Virgin’s, with pale oval faces they cross their arms in respect. The quality of the paint, luminous on board, is particularly manipulated in the angels’ draped cloaking and darkly tipped wings. All are given the Virgin’s characteristic bright blue, the colour diluting across them from her central figure, ending in almost translucent pale indigo at the bottom of their rippling gowns.

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