Six roundels from a unique early sixteenth-century group of eight depicting Labours of the Month have been acquired by Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Four are now in Norwich and two in London. The roundels probably depict Labours for the months of March, April, June, July, August and September [Figs 1–3]. English roundels of this date are extremely rare.
Before their acquisition, these roundels had a complex history. They were probably originally made for the house of an early sixteenth-century mayor of Norwich, Thomas Pykerell, which still stands. Thereafter they are known to have been installed at a stately home, Brandiston Hall in central Norfolk, from some point in the mid-nineteenth century until 1985. At that point, scholars lost track of the roundels, and they are listed as missing in Kerry Ayre’s Medieval English Figurative Roundels (CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 6, Oxford, 2002, pp. 163–65). Last year however a dealer offered them to Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery. The artist has been traditionally identified as one John Wattock from Norwich, but the precise origins of the work remain a mystery. CVMA scholar David King will contribute an exclusive article about the roundels in the next issue of Vidimus.
The Norfolk roundels were acquired for £194,000. The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and the Art Fund awarded £93,000 and £70,000 respectively towards the cost, with the rest of the funding coming from The Pilgrim Trust (£18,000), the Friends of Norwich Museums (£6,000), the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts (£4,000), and the Paul Bassham Charitable Trust (£3,000). The cost of the roundels acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum is not known.
We are indebted to the Art Fund and to Dr Francesca Vanke of the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery for their help with this item.