Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


14.4.08
  Murals

I've mentioned that some villages in Germany have churches of great age and sometimes unexpected beauty. So here are some more pics of the little Romanesque church in Vernawahlshausen at the Weser.

East wall; the oldest part of the building.

The eastern part dates back to about 1100. It now holds the altar, but originally it was a choir with gross grain vault but no apse. There may have been an even older building, a chapel dedicated to St. Margarethe built by monks from Corvey, one of the great German monastic centres which had its roots in the Cluny tradition.

View into the altar room with the rediscovered murals

The church belonged to the Dukes of Braunschweig (the family of Henry the Lion) until 1296, then went to the Abbey of Lippoldsberg; and after the reformation in 1538, the patronship came to the landgraves of Hessen.

Closeup of some Romanesque murals:
in the centre the archangel Michael, to the right two apostles

In 1589, the nave was expanded, and thereafter either a traveling painter, or a more or less talented guy from the village added some paintings on the sides of the gallery. Whoever did the job might have benefitted from some lessons in human anatomy. The snake looks pretty good, though.

Adam and Eve, Rennaissance painting

The vicar at that time - and as rumor has it, his wife in particular - thought his parishioners should not be exposed to such sinful paintings. Yes, you can see Eva's boobies, which makes this blog 'adult content' now, at least for US readers. *grin* The offending pictures were painted over with white colour and have been rediscovered in 1955 together with the Romanesque murals in the choir.
 
Comments:
This blog is rated M for Mature! :p
 
Gabriele

Yes, the old blue law exception, “but it’s in the Bible.”

Churches, especially before the printing press told a story with the murals and artwork. Are the murals left just stand alone out of context or is it a more complete set?
 
Lucky that they were still recoverable under the whitewash :-)

Interesting that people were still painting church murals in the 1580s when printed vernacular Bibles and literacy were becoming more widespread. I had a vague idea that the rise of literacy and printing meant murals went out of fashion because people no longer needed them, being more able to read the text for themselves. But perhaps prudery had at least as much to do with it - the Bible is full of eye-popping stuff :-)
 
Meghan, :-)

Hank, the murals are incomplete because not all details survived time and whitewashing, but there may have been something like Passion and Ascension.

Carla, maybe it they still did it because it looks pretty - when the anatomy isn't off. ;) What I found interesting is that the chuch was protestant at that time, and the Protestants weren't so fond of decoration.
 
I can just imagine some of the reactions to the Adam and Eve mural. It's likely that the whitewash saved the mural from further damage. The snake was very realistic. :)
 
The murals are charming.
 
Shelley, it would be even more fun without the fig leaves. :)

They are, Bernita. The Romanesque mural may have been of brighter colour originally, but the faded shades are more elegant.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK and Scandinavia.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.

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