Dr Ellie Pridgeon FSA promoting the study of medieval wall paintings

Book Review in Vidimus – Oosterwijk & Knöll

I have recently reviewed the following book for Vidimus:

S. Oosterwijk & S. Knöll, eds, Mixed Metaphors: The Danse Macabre in Early Modern Europe, Newcastle upon Tyne 2011.

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As the review notes: ‘This book consists of an innovative and informative collection of articles that examine the visual and textual motif of the Danse Macabre from its emergence in the late fourteenth century’.  It examines depictions of the Danse in various media (including wall painting).

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Lydiard Tregoz(e) (Wiltshire) Conservation Work

Photographs showing the conservation work currently being carried out at Lydiard Tregoz(e), Wiltshire:

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Recent Paper on Medieval Wall Painting

Recent papers at the Leeds IMC 2012 on medieval wall painting included:

Writings on the Wall: The Discriminating Use of Scripts in Late Medieval Mural Paintings by 
Christian Nikolaus Opitz (Universität Wien):

Christian works on inscription in European wall painting, and his paper examined the uses of different scripts and languages which occur in imagery.  He convincingly argued that vernacular language (in this case Catalan) was generally used to refer to the painter, donor or date, and that Latin was employed for Biblical text.  Majuscule script was used for epigraphic inscriptions commemorating historical events (to add gravitas), whereas  miniscule script was frequently employed to depict spoken words (often rendered in speech scrolls).

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Article Review – The Holy Kinship Wall Paintings, Thornhill and Latton

Mellie Naydenova-Slade’s article on Holy Kinship imagery makes interesting reading, and is an important modern addition to the study of medieval wall paintings, particularly those located in private chapels:

Naydenova-Slade, M., ‘Late Medieval Holy Kinship Images and Family Commemoration: The Evidence from Thornhill, West Yorkshire and Latton, Essex’, in Barron, C.M. and Burgess, C., eds., Memory and Commemoration in Medieval England, Harlaxton Medieval Studies XX, Donington 2010, 218–233.

As the author explains, the Holy Kinship is the term used to describe the extended family of Christ, which became popular in the fifteenth century with secular patrons.   Traditionally, scholars have acknowledged that the Kinship image may have been used by eminent families to promote their lineage by association with Christ’s family.  Naydenova-Slade argues that Kinship images in family chapels may also have  intended bring to mind deceased relatives.  In particular, she draws attention to the typologically-unusual mural at Thornhill, which depicts  St Anne with all three husbands.  This emphasis on male ancestors of Christ may indicate a lineage where the male line is significant.

Wall Painting, Latton, Essex

The second wall painting examined is the Holy Kinship at Latton, Essex.  The chantry chapel was founded in 1466 by Peter and Catherine Arderne, and includes a founders’ tomb and a brass depicting Arderne and his wife.  The sole surviving fragments of the wall painting scheme are visible above the tomb (described  and illustrated in Gough, Sepulchral Monuments: Fifteenth Century).   Miriam Gill first identified the fragmented wall painting as the Holy Kinship (Gill, M., Late Medieval Wall Painting in England: Context and Content, c.1330-c.1530, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Courtauld Institute 2002.).  There is also a surviving inscription running beneath the Kinship images (a versicle from the Office of the Dead).

Naydenova-Slade suggests that the patrons of the Latton wall paintings were not, as traditionally assumed, Peter and Catherine Arderne, but their children Anne and Elizabeth.  This is based on the fact that the inscription appears to have been painted before the Holy Kinship image, and that their name-sake saints (Elizabeth and Anne) appear in the scheme.  The author also argues that stylistically the Kinship painting dates from the early sixteenth century, and that it was deliberately placed above the tomb  for association with their parents (the figures assuming the place of weepers).  The image thus celebrates parenthood,  ensures the memory of the family line, and commemorates and celebrates the life of the founders.

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