June, and the Thirty-six Year Old

1475-1500 (made)


Diameter: 21.3 cm sight, Height: 24.0 cm framed, Width: 23.8 cm framed, Depth: 3.2 cm framed, Weight: 1.3 kg framed

1239-1855 CER

Painted stained glass roundel depicting one of the Ages of Man. Made in the Netherlands, c.1475 to 1500.

A man in a short tunic with yellow trimming on the hem and on the sleeves and wearing white tights and yellow shoes is in the centre of the panel. He is bent over writing notes on a pad. His right leg rests on what appears to be a large square cushion with tassels on each of the corners but is actually a woolsack. In front of him is a large scale with a small sack on one of the balances and two weights on the other. On the shelves above and behind him are various containers, some ceramic. On another shelf, in front of him, are what appear to be sugar loaves. There is a piece of paper or parchment with text (illegible) pinned to the wall. All executed in silver stain and brown pigment.

The subject of this roundel has recently become clear. It is thought to represent one of the Ages of Man. At the same time it symbolises one of the 12 months of the year. There is another roundel with the same subject in Brussels. Although this is of lesser quality, it still retains its border inscription. Translated, this reads, 'At the age of 36 one has to work for profits, as we typify the month [of June]'. Originally, therefore, the roundel in the V&A must have belonged to a series of 12, marking each of the months and illustrating the Ages of Man at six-yearly intervals from the ages of 6 to 72. Like the Brussels roundels, it must once have had a border inscription. The relevant Sign of the Zodiac was probably added to it.

Bought from the Chaffers sale at Christie's.

Location: Medieval and Renaissance, room 63, case 6

View this object on the V&A website