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Extremely few British paintings of religious subjects have survived from the 16th century. After the Reformation, Protestant unease about images meant it would have been highly controversial to display either religious paintings or alabasters. The inscription at the bottom, in English, warns against the evil of worldly vanity. Instead it urges prayer to ensure the safe passage of the soul to heaven. The resurrected Christ appears at the top. Below him, at the centre, is Man, shielded by Christian and moral virtues against attacks from all sides by the Seven Deadly Sins.

February 2016