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Holy Grail Tapestry - Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Panel 5 - The Ship

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1947M52
Collection:Applied Art - Textiles
Date:1900 - 1900

Maker Information

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


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 version of The Ship was woven for Mrs Middlemore, wife of the Birmingham leather manufacturer Thomas Middlemore, and bequeathed to the Museum in 1947.

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.

This design links the figurative scenes together. The story tells how the knights travelled by ship for part of their journey to Sarras, where the Holy Grail was to be discovered.

Ships were often used in medieval stories as important narrative devices, to transport characters from one scene or world to another. Burne-Jones drew studies for this design using scale models.

Presented by Miss Evangeline Middlemore, 1947.

Further Information

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

Associated People


Height:2390 mm
Width:1040 mm