The kiss or embrace of Judas is one of the Gospel stories from Christ’s Passion leading up to his Arrest. According to the Gospels, in the year 33 of the Christian era, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus of Nazareth for 30 pieces of silver with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane. This moment has been depicted in numerous works of art, with the kiss traditionally symbolising betrayal. Both the Gospel of Saint Matthew (26: 47-50) and the Gospel of Saint Mark (14:43- 45) used the Greek verb kataphileó, which means to “kiss tenderly, intensely, fervently”. The apocryphal gospels also deal with this subject, although the apocryphal Gospel of Judas (56-57) provides a gnostic version of the story, whereby it was Jesus who asked Judas to betray him. “You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me (…). The star that leads the way is your star.”
The English alabaster relief panels were executed during a fairly well-defined period, between the middle of the 14th century and the beginning of the 16th century. The first recorded use of alabaster carving in England dates from around 1160, at Tutbury Church. However, it would not be until the 1300s that we find the first sculpture carved in said material, in the construction of the tomb of Sir John de Handbury. The most important alabaster quarries were in Staffordshire and Derbyshire, and the most prominent centres for alabaster carving were Nottingham, Burt-on-Trent, York and London. Alabaster is a mineral made up of gypsum and other impurities. It is extremely soft for carving, making it quicker to work with and allowing for greater levels of production.