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The Lord's Prayer III: The Descent of the Holy Spirit: M.49B-1904

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


The Lord's Prayer III: The Descent of the Holy Spirit


Maker: Nouailher, Colin
Designer: Holbein, Hans, the younger
Printmaker: Monogrammist C. V.




Rectangular copper plaque enamelled en grisaille with a little flesh pink and red on a black ground, and gilded. The descent of the Holy Spirit inscribed below 'TON ROYAINNE VIENNE/A NOUS'. One of a set with M.49A & C-F-1904

Rectangular convex copper plaque with a small hole in each corner, enamelled en grisaille with a little flesh pink, and red on a black ground, and gilded. Clear, unevenly applied counter-enamel, with a thick blob in the top right corner, and many pinholes. The Virgin is seated in the centre reading a book with groups of the disciples on either side. She wears a long cloak over her head and dress, and looks down at the book. The disciple nearest on the left is seated on an X-framed stool, and the nearest on the right is bearded and kneels. Only the heads and shoulders of the rest are shown. Above, there is a white line and black sky semé with red tadpole stars and with banks of clouds in the top corners. At top centre the Dove of the Holy Spirit is shown over a semi-circular red sun with straight and wavy gold rays. A white panel running across the bottomof the plaque is inscribed in black with gilding over it ‘TON ROYAINNE VIENNE/A NOUS’ (Thy kingdom come to us) preceded by two adorsed C scrolls, and followed by two small scrolls. A gold line runs round the edge of the scene and inscription. The reverse is inscribed in pale black with the number ‘III’. The plaque is set in an ill-fitting, rectangular, gilt-metal frame with repeating formal leaf border. The plaque is held into the frame by four bent over pins attached to the cardinal points on the reverse.


History note: Uncertain; possibly Robert Napier, West Shandon, Dunbartonshire by 1865; sold Christie’s, 5 June, 1877, part of lot 2594; sold to Stettiner (probably Henri). An unidentified French sale in which the six plaques formed lot 289. An unidentified Italian owner or dealer before or after the sale. Frank McClean MA, FRS (1837–1904), Rusthall House, near Tunbridge Wells

Legal notes

Frank McClean Bequest

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ Haute Vienne ⪼ France
  • Basel ⪼ Switzerland

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank


16th Century, Mid
Circa 1540 CE - 1550 CE


This plaque was originally the third of a set of eight illustrating the Lord's Prayer of which six are in the Fitzwilliam (M.49A-F-1904). The prayer occurs in the Gospels of St Matthew, VI, 9-13 and St Luke, XI, 2-4. The first plaque shows Christ instructing his disciples how to pray (Matthew, VI, 6-7), and the others have scenes associated with the lines of the Lord's Prayer which follows (Matthew, VI, 8-13). The words are written in French at the bottom of each plaque. This scene, the 'Descent of the Holy Spririt at Pentecost' (Acts of the Apostles, 2, 1-4), illustrates the third line of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy Kingdom come’ (Matthew VI, 10), with the words 'a nous' (to us) added. Five more plaques of the Pentecost scene are recorded. The scenes in the plaques were inspired by a set of metalcuts by the Basel monogrammist C.V. after Holbein which appeared in Desiderio Erasmus's 'Precatio dominica in septem portiones', published by both Johann Froben and Johannes Bebel successively in Basle in 1524. The work was first published without illustrations in 1523, and was rapidly translated into modern languages. The illustrations in the Froben and Bebel editions have the inscriptions in Latin, but a set of eight prints issued separately a little later with inscriptions in French, signed CV, is in the British Museum (1904.0206, 64,1-8;) and seven of the set (no. 4 is missing) are in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque nationale, Paris (EA 25c in fol., p. 57). They may have been made for a French illustrated edition of Erasmus's book which was not published. While the iconography of all the plaques was derived from these prints, the details differ considerably, in some scenes more than others. The text on the plaques does not exactly follow the French text on the prints in the British Museum. Two Lord's Prayer plaques in the Louvre were attributed to Colin Nouailher by Alfred Darcel (1867) and his attribution was upheld by J.J. Marquet de Vasselot (1919-20) and Sophie Baratte (2000). This attribution was confirmed for plaques in the same style by the presence of the initials CN below the title on a plaque from the Lord’s Prayer decorated with the 'Deliver us from Evil' scene, acquired by the Musée de l’Évêché (now Musée des Beaux-Arts), Limoges, in 2007 (2007.5.2) with another plaque of the 'Give us our daily bread' scene (2007.5.1). Sets of Lord's Prayer plaques are also attributed to Jean II or III Penicaud, and to an enameller who signed 'KIP'. These differ considerably in style and details from Noualher's plaques and include one or two scenes which are completely different from the metalcuts after Holbein.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel gold
Plaque composed of copper Height 12 cm Width 9.7 cm
Frame Height 12.9 cm Width 10.4 cm

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: preceded by two adorsed C scrolls, and followed by two small scrolls

  • Location: On front
  • Method of creation: Painted in black and gold
  • Type: Inscription
  • Text: III
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Painted in black
  • Type: Number

Inscription present: almost square paper label with serrated edges, printed in blue with a beaded border; the inscription is underlined as far as the A

  • Text: 2 (in circle) 4899 sei/T000/N000/A10/di una/venduta separato’. the 489 crossed through.
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Hand-written in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.49B-1904
Primary reference Number: 156436
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Sunday 3 March 2024 Last processed: Sunday 3 March 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "The Lord's Prayer III: The Descent of the Holy Spirit" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-20 01:40:10

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