A 15thC French Caen Limestone Architectural Carving

Origin: French
Period: Late Medieval
Provenance: Collection of Mike Handford, 'Hillsleigh', Burford, Oxfordshire
Date: c.1450
Height: 27”
Width: 12.5”
Depth: 6”

The well-carved late medieval period Caen limestone stone carving in the form of a female figure, and probably from a window jamb, standing with their right arm to their chest,  the other hand resting on a cartouche with further architectural elements to the figures right hand side and below, the whole being once part of a large composition and surviving from fifteenth century France.

The condition of the whole is mostly pleasing with a good even spread of weathering commensurate with exposure to the elements giving it an evocative all-round character and colour. The face is rubbed and damaged as per the photographs, and the distressed paint is probably very early twentieth century. This carving was part of Mike Handford’s collection, which was amassed over a period of over 40 years in his Burford house.

Dating back as far as the 11th century, some of the greatest English historic buildings were built with French stone. Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Tower of London were all built from Caen limestone, which was brought over by WiIliam the Conqueror. Prior to that, Caen limestone was first used as a building stone by the Romans in the 1st century, then, around a thousand years later, the quarry produced the limestone that was shipped to England following the Norman Conquest in 1066. It was the preferred building stone of the Normans and was often used ahead of the local British stone.

A highly decorative and well-carved piece in a beautiful material that could tell the tale of the Hundred Years’ War.