Prophet from a Tree of Jesse


The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum
London, United Kingdom

This panel depicting an Old Testament prophet, and nine others in the museum's collections (Mus.nos. 5-5E-1881 and 6-6C-1881), formed part of a 'Jesse Tree' window. 'Jesse Tree' windows are a visual representation of Jesus Christ's genealogy which was traced back to Jesse, the father of the Old Testament Prophet/King David.

These prophets announce the coming of Christ from the line of David and appear on the Tree accompanying images of Christ's royal ancestors. The whole window would have culminated at the top with either an image of Jesus Christ or an image of the Christ Child with his mother, Mary. At the bottom of the window would have been an image of Jesse from whom the genealogical Tree emerges.

The prophet here can be identified by the name 'Roboan'. There was no prophet by that name but there was a King Rehoboam who is portrayed in some Tree of Jesse representations, including English ones of the 14th century. It is unknown why King Rehoboam would be depicted as a prophet and it is likely that the figure has not been correctly identified. Jesse Trees with their kings and prophets were produced in all forms of church art from the 11th century and throughout the medieval period. There was no standard convention for the depiction of the prophets and the kings.

The style of painting on this figure is very much like that of the prophet series 5 to 5C-1881 but the figure is more robust in its form, as seen in the other series (5D-E and 6-C-1881). Most of the prophet figures in this collection are paired, are mirror images of each other, indicating that each pair was made from the same cartoon or design drawing. 5D and 6C-1881 are exceptions and it is likely that there was originally a pair to each.

Two other panels in the museum (Mus.nos. 6D and 6E-1881) depict Kings from a 'Jesse Tree' window but were not originally part of this series of prophets panels.


  • Title: Prophet from a Tree of Jesse
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1205/1245
  • Location Created: Champagne-Ardenne
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 66 cm, Width: 37.2 cm
  • Medium: Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details

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