English or French (?), The Wilton Diptych, Reverse: Copyright the National Gallery, London
The White Hart image from the Wilton Diptych in the National Gallery, London, is an image of enduring medieval grace and nobility, and a lasting symbol of King Richard II’s reign. Though debate continues over whether its origins are that of a French or an English artist, it cannot be denied that the animal bears a striking gentleness in its gaze, almost inviting the viewer to reach out and touch its lily white fur. One cannot look upon the stag, gorged with a crown around its neck and chained while lodged on the grass, and not respond to the mysterious origins of the scene. It went missing in 1399 for over two centuries, only to be documented later in the seventeenth century as being in the private collection of King Charles I of England. Perhaps one day the story of its disappearance and subsequent discovery shall be told.