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Holy Grail Tapestry - Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Panel 3 - The Failure of Sir Gawaine; Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine at the Ruined Chapel

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1907M130
Collection:Applied Art - Textiles
Date:1895 - 1896

Maker Information

Designer:John Henry Dearle - View biography for John Henry Dearle
Designer:Sir Edward Burne-Jones - View biography for Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Designer:William Morris - View biography for William Morris
Manufacturer:Morris & Co - View history


This sequence of tapestries was originally designed for William Knox D'Arcy, for the dining room of his house, Stanmore Hall in Middlesex. Several further versions were woven later. Birmingham's 'The Failure of Sir Gawain' is one of three tapestries commissioned in 1895 by the industrialist Laurence Hodson, for his house Compton Hall near Wolverhampton.

The subject matter is based on the 15th century text Le Morte D'Arthur (The Death of Arthur) by Sir Thomas Malory. It tells the story of the spiritual quest by the knights of King Arthur's round table for the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus and the disciples drank at the Last Supper.

Here the third scene depicts two knights who failed in their quest because they had previously led sinful lives. The story told how after many days of riding they stopped to rest and pray at a deserted chapel, but were told that they could not enter. Sir Uwaine is shown on the left, and Sir Gawaine is nearest the angel, who is barring the entrance to the chapel. A brilliant light shines from within, suggesting the presence of the Holy Grail.

The next scene in the series showed the failure of Sir Lancelot, but this subject is not in Birmingham's collection.

Purchased and presented by subscribers, 1907.

Further Information

Production Period:19th century
Medium:Wool, silk, mohair and camel hair weft on cotton warp.

Associated People

Associated Places


Height:2890 mm
Width:2440 mm