Medieval Wall Painting News – An Introduction

One of the fascinating things about studying medieval wall paintings is that there are always new discoveries. And by this I don’t mean just the usual advancement of knowledge brought about by new research and new approaches, but the simple fact that on a regular basis “new”, i.e. hitherto unknown medieval murals are discovered under layers of plaster and whitewash added by later generations. Admittedly, most of these discoveries are far from spectacular but in the last few decades alone there were several which significantly changed our understanding of the art produced in a certain place and time.

A detail from the so-called Gozzoburg in Krems, Austria, showing a piece of yet to be recovered 13th-century wall painting

Even in the last few months a number of new finds has made the news, although most of them have only been reported on by local news outlets. Thanks to the dissemination power of social media, though, many of these stories from all over Europe have found their way into my twitter timeline, so I figured I’d do a collective post with links to all the individual reports. Then I thought again and decided it would be a good idea to make this a regular feature on my blog. So, starting tomorrow I will post a quarterly overview of Medieval Wall Painting News every three months. (Seeing as we’re already at the end of the second quarter of 2014, I will actually start the series with two posts, one covering January to March, the second covering April to June.) These posts will include brief summaries of as well as links to news stories about recent discoveries but also about recently started, recently completed or ongoing restoration campaigns, thus documenting what’s going on in the field of medieval wall paintings.1 I have also created a new page here, accessible via the header bar, where I will collect all posts in this category.

In terms of geography, my Medieval Wall Painting News will cover all of Europe and what one might call the Mediterranean (e.g. Northern Africa and the Middle East) in the period commonly known as the Middle Ages, defined here as roughly 500 – 1500 AD. Although I was tempted by the recent discovery of a pre-Columbian mural in Peru to include other regions as well, both my limited time resources and my limited knowledge of e.g. Asian or American art have ultimately led me to decide against it. That said, if I come across something really extraordinary, I’m more than likely to make an exception, but the point is I won’t be actively monitoring the field of extra-European art.

Even within Europe and the Mediterranean, of course, there are probably plenty of relevant news items that will escape my attention, so let me end this introduction with an appeal: If you become aware of new discoveries and/or current restorations of medieval wall paintings in your area, I’d be highly grateful if you could pass on the news to me either via mail (c.n.opitz[at]gmail.com) or via twitter (@c_n_opitz).

  1. Some of the linked sites will, I’m afraid, be in languages other than English. Where this is the case, I will include an indication of the language used in parentheses. []

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