This sequence of tapestries was originally designed for William Knox D'Arcy, for the dining room of his house, Stanmore Hall in Middlesex (see black and white image). Several further versions were woven later. Birmingham's 'The Attainment' is one of three tapestries commissioned in 1895 by the industrialist Laurence Hodson, for his house Compton Hall near Wolverhampton.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. The final scene shows the three successful knights. The relative purity of each knight's life is represented by their distance from the Holy Grail, which sits on the altar inside the chapel. Sir Galahad kneels in the doorway surrounded by white lilies, symbolising his purity. On the left are Sir Bors and Sir Perceval. Three standing angels hold symbols of Christ's passion, including the bleeding lance of Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced his side on the cross. Above the Holy Grail is a Pentecostal wind, symbolising the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  • Purchased and presented by subscribers, 1907.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Designer Sir Edward Burne-Jones -
Designer William Morris -
Designer John Henry Dearle -
Manufacturer - Morris & Co


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
Holy Grail Tapestries
T14 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 1981 - 1981
Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer
150 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1998-06-04 - 1998-09-06
150 Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 1998-10-17 - 1999-01-17
150 Musée d'Orsay, Paris 1999-03-01 - 1999-06-06
Common Threads
- Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery 2002-07-01 - -


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones
Lady Georgiana Burne-Jones 1904 Macmillan, London Vol. II: p. 209
William Morris Textiles
Linda Parry 1983 London p. 116
William Morris
Linda Parry 1996 Victoria & Albert Museum, London p. 232
Christopher Wood 1998 Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London p. 117
Pre-Raphaelites and Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection
Nicholas Tromans 2003 Royal Academy of Arts, London pp. 242-243

Associated people

Name Type
Laurence Hodson Commissioned by
Sir Thomas Malory Author

Associated places

Name Type
Compton Hall, Wolverhampton Made for

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