An extraordinarily rare Henry VIII large carved oak and polychrome-decorated panel, The Anointing of David, South-West, circa 1530, attributed to the carver Robert Daye [fl. c. 1520 - 1530]

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Lot 468
An extraordinarily rare Henry VIII large carved oak and polychrome-decorated panel, The Anointing of David, South-West, circa 1530, attributed to the carver Robert Daye [fl. c. 1520 - 1530]

Sold for £ 17,500 (US$ 23,323) inc. premium
An extraordinarily rare Henry VIII large carved oak and polychrome-decorated panel, The Anointing of David, South-West, circa 1530, attributed to the carver Robert Daye [fl. c. 1520 - 1530]
Carved in the solid, and with a shield titled 'DAVID IS ANOYNTED KYNG', and carved with David kneeling and being anointed by Samuel with oil from a horn, a pen of David's sheep, a castle, trees and other figures (some defaced) in the background, with traces of mainly forest-green and burnt-umber paint, 78cm wide x 4cm deep x 80cm high, (30 1/2in wide x 1 1/2in deep x 31in high)

Footnotes

  • One of seventy-nine bench ends in the parish church of Altarnun, Cornwall, dedicated to St. Nonna, is carved with sheep within a landscape with grass and rocky ground rendered in exactly the same manner – the rocky ground deeply carved and jagged, the grass delineated by closely-carved lines – as appear on this panel.

    Another of the bench ends at Altarnun bears the message 'ROBART : DAYE MAKER : OF THIS WORK : E : ? : WILLYAM BOK?[Y]MGHAM : CURAT : JOHN HODGE CLARK' and it is generally assumed that Daye was the carver of all of the bench ends. The lettering – particularly in the angled 'y' – of the words carved to the shield of this panel are a very good match for the lettering on the bench end carved with Robert Daye's name. Moreover, the same circular punch which has decorated the ground of this panel was used on many of the bench ends at Altarnun. This panel is, therefore, attributed to Robert Daye.

    Today the date carved to the inscribed bench end is obscured and only the letters 'MD' are visible. When these bench ends were written about in Country Life in 1945, the author thought that the inscription read 1530, or 'MDXXX'. William Bokkingham was curate between 1520 – 1540, so the bench ends at Altarnun must have been made during that period, which provides a date range for this panel.

    It is not known whether this panel originated at Altarnun as Robert Daye is thought to have carved other church furniture in the area, at St. Winnow, for instance. It is possible, therefore, that this panel came from another church in the area.

    The Old Testament story of David's anointing by Samuel gained in popularity after the break with Rome in the 1530s, at least among Henry VIII and his advisors. In 1528, the King paid £1500 for a ten-panel set of tapestries depicting the Life of King David (see A. Weir, Henry VIII: King and Court (2008), p. 44) and in or around 1540, Henry commissioned an illuminated psalter from the French emigré Jean Mallard, which included miniature portrayals of 'David at Prayer', 'David in Penance' and 'David slaying Goliath', all showing David with the features and figure of Henry VIII.

    Henry's Psalter reveals that by the 1540s he perceived himself as King David of the Old Testament. In 1534, Henry's declaration of independence from Rome and his new role as Supreme Head of the Church of England had marked a return to theocratic kingship. The most important element of the theocratic model of kingship was the use of Old Testament prototypes to justify and define the Royal supremacy. David's jurisdiction over the priests of the Temple was therefore invoked to confirm Henry's power over his clergy. The great bible of 1539, the first authorised version of the Bible in English, heads the chapter 1 Samuel XVI with the same words – 'David is anoynted kyng' – which appear on this panel.

    The figures which have been removed from this panel may originally have depicted Samuel's sacrifice, which he was ordered by God to make on his arrival in Bethlehem. The pictoral source for this scene has not been identified.
Contacts
An extraordinarily rare Henry VIII large carved oak and polychrome-decorated panel, The Anointing of David, South-West, circa 1530, attributed to the carver Robert Daye [fl. c. 1520 - 1530]
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