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Medieval Wall Paintings

Medieval Wall Paintings

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Medieval Wall Paintings

evaluări:
3/5 (4 evaluări)
Lungime:
162 pages
54 minutes
Lansat:
Feb 10, 2014
ISBN:
9780747814566
Format:
Carte

Descriere

The medieval wall paintings that remain in English churches are for the most part shadows of their former selves – the rare fragments of this beautiful art to have survived not only the Reformation but also successive waves of iconoclastic zeal and unsympathetic restoration. The whitewashed walls of most parish churches belie the riot of colour and decoration that once adorned them, but the remnants of paintings tucked into corners or rescued from later layers of paint help us to understand the role of art in medieval religion. Roger Rosewell here offers a guide to the role played by medieval wall paintings, as religious, didactic and commemorative works of art, telling the stories of those who created them and those who used them on a daily basis. He also compares and contrasts religious and domestic wall paintings, using beautiful colour photography throughout.
Lansat:
Feb 10, 2014
ISBN:
9780747814566
Format:
Carte

Despre autor

Roger Rosewell is the News and Features Editor of Vidimus, the international online magazine about medieval stained glass. Educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, he is the author of an award-winning study of medieval wall paintings and is a member of the Royal Photographic Society.

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Medieval Wall Paintings - Roger Rosewell

(Oxon).

INTRODUCTION

THE PARISH CHURCH at Hornton in Oxfordshire is one of hundreds of buildings that retain important examples of medieval wall paintings – perhaps the most enigmatic art of the Middle Ages.

Although such survivals are often fragmentary and sometimes difficult to decipher, the best of these paintings still have the power to evoke a world very different from – and yet remarkably similar to – our own, troubled by questions about fate, salvation, morality and justice.

At Hornton the entire eastern wall of the chancel is painted. The lower walls depict, on the north side, the Virgin Mary cradling the dead Christ and on the other, the warrior knight, St George, vanquishing a ferocious dragon. Above the chancel arch the dead emerge from their graves to learn their fate – everlasting bliss in Heaven or eternal damnation in the flames of Hell – an image known as the Doom or Last Judgement, which would have been found in every medieval church before the Reformation caused their interiors to be stripped and the walls covered in whitewash.

Together with stained glass windows and other furnishings, such paintings helped to transform even the most humble church into a place of holiness and wonder, divine mystery, and miraculous salvation. They were commissioned by wealthy patrons or donors, powerful institutions such as monasteries, and sometimes by public subscription. Similar paintings adorned churches elsewhere in Western Europe with good examples still surviving in Denmark, France, Italy, and Spain. According to the thirteenth-century Spanish bishop, Lucas of Tuy, writing around 1230, wall paintings helped ‘the house of God ... elevate the mind to heavenly things [and represent] the beauty of the heavenly home’.

This book is about these paintings in churches. It explains why they were made, the subjects they showed, how painters created them, and their relationship with other arts. It also describes what triggered their destruction, what replaced them, and the efforts of modern-day conservators to save them for future generations. A separate chapter discusses domestic wall paintings of the period. Also included is a Further Reading section, followed by a Gazetteer, in which interesting examples of wall paintings are listed.

Wall paintings depicting the Book of Revelation, the chancel, c. 1130–40, Church of St Mary, Kempley (Glos).

THE PAINTED CHURCH

WALL PAINTINGS decorated churches from the Christian conversion of Anglo-Saxon England in the seventh century until the Reformation eight hundred years later. They were often cheap and quick to make. The earliest paintings consisted of simple decorative designs, inscriptions in Roman style lettering and figurative images at the eastern end of the building. Angels censing a now lost seated figure of Christ as ruler of the world ( Majestas Domini , Christ in Majesty), above the chancel arch at Nether Wallop (Hants), are painted in the same fluttery style as contemporary Anglo-Saxon manuscript illuminations produced in Winchester around AD 1000.

Important remains of twelfth-century Norman paintings (sometimes called Romanesque as they drew on the earlier art of ancient Rome) can be seen at Houghton-on-the-Hill (Norfolk) and in several Sussex churches including Hardham, Clayton, and Coombes (often known as the ‘Lewes Group’ on the assumption that they may have belonged to the monastic priory of St Pancras at Lewes). At Houghton and Clayton the paintings are concentrated at the eastern end of the church but at Hardham the scheme covers every wall and includes large-scale decorative and figurative designs.

At Canterbury Cathedral (Kent), a church served by an adjacent monastery, a scheme of c. 1130 in a crypt chapel includes figures holding scrolls painted with Latin inscriptions, which the monks would have almost certainly been able to read.

At Kempley (Glos), twelfth-century wall paintings in the chancel of this small church summarise the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, St John’s apocalyptic prophesy of the destruction of the world and the second coming of Christ. At East Shefford (Berks) a scheme of a similar date depicting the Adoration of the Magi (the three kings) incorporates blocks of intense colour.

By contrast to these survivals, examples of Romanesque painting in Scotland and Wales are extremely rare. A few painted stones at Glasgow Cathedral have been dated to the twelfth century; the eastern wall of the presbytery at Ewenny Priory (Glamorgan) has a scheme of c. 1140.

Detail of the Naming of St John, c. 1130, St Gabriel’s Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral (Kent).

Changes in artistic and architectural styles from the thirteenth century onwards had far-reaching effects for wall painters. The power and monumentality of Romanesque paintings gave way to Gothic elegance with figures adopting the swaying ‘S’ shape posture developed by French artists, as at Little Wenham (Suffolk) and Turvey (Beds). Displays of heraldic decoration appeared at Silchester (Hants) and elsewhere. New subjects and designs also proliferated as the church placed a greater emphasis on teaching the fundamental tenets of Christianity to their congregations and lay people became responsible for the decoration of the public part of the church, the nave.

Nave wall paintings at the Church of St Botolph, Hardham (West Sussex), c. 1100–20. Upper tier, Infancy of Christ; lower tier, Life of St George.

The architectural fashion for larger window openings posed particular problems for wall painters as churches became virtual cages for glass. One consequence was that large-scale coherent schemes, designed and painted across contiguous expanses of wall space, became rarer as the available space shrank. Most churches seem to have had ‘mix and match’ schemes, perhaps of different dates and sizes. Some walls have three and more subjects painted on them, divided by decorative borders. It may have been that this bricolage effect was intentional. Two surviving exceptions include Pickering (Yorks), where the arrangement of the subjects matches a church calendar, and Eton College Chapel (Berks), where a scheme in two registers or tiers painted between c. 1477 and 1487 depicts twenty-two individual miracles of the Virgin Mary, and a longer eight-panel sequence, The Empress Falsely Accused, a soap-opera-style story in which Mary intervenes to rescue a woman betrayed and wronged. From the late fourteenth century onwards, large-scale images of the Doom, St Christopher carrying the Christ child and St George and

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  • (3/5)
    If you’re ever struck by a sudden and possibly passing interest in English medieval wall paintings then this is the book for you. It briefly explains the basics and there’s a good gazetteer so you can track down some examples. It’s particularly well illustrated. The book is at least half illustrations, a mix of photographs and watercolours by the author. The watercolours are so good I couldn’t have told them from the real thing. This is one of those little Shire books and there’s another in the series by Rouse called Discovering Wall Paintings. Get Medieval Wall Paintings if you can as the text is ‘revised and expanded’ and some of the illustrations are in colour.