Medieval Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches

March 2008
255 colour, 6 black and white illustrations
384 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
Boydell Press

Medieval Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches

Roger Rosewell


Hardback out of stock

The first major illustrated study of this unique medieval art form for almost half a century, surveying the images and iconography that made the medieval church a riot of colour.
Highly Commended in the Best Archaeological Book category of the 2008 British Archaeological Awards.

Wall paintings are a unique art form, complementing, and yet distinctly separate from, other religious imagery in churches. Unlike carvings, or stained glass windows, their support was the structure itself, with the artist's `canvas' the very stone and plaster of the church. They were also monumental, often larger than life-size images for public audiences. Notwithstanding their dissimilarity from other religious art, wall paintings were also an integral part of church interiors, enhancing devotional imagery and inspiring faith and commitment in their own right, and providing an artistic setting for the church's sacred rituals and public ceremonies.

This book brings together, often for the first time, many of the very best surviving examples of medieval church wall paintings. Using new technologies and many previously untried techniques, it allows us to visualize these images as the artists originally intended. The plates are accompanied by an authoritative and scholarly text, bringing the imagery and iconography of the medieval church vividly to life.

ROGER ROSEWELL was educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University. A former journalist, he is a Director of a private European art foundation and the news editor of the online stained glass magazine, VIDIMUS.

Table of Contents

A History of Wall Paintings
The Subjects
Patrons and Painters
Making Wall Paintings
Meaning and Understanding
Reformation and Rescue
Subject Guide
Select Bibliography


A visual treat that means to entertain as well as inform, covering in six chapters the history, subjects, patrons and painters, method of production, interpretation, and history from the Reformation onwards. YEAR'S WORK IN ENGLISH STUDIES
[Succeeds] in its own brief of doing what no other book has done - present a textual and pictorial survey, with wonderful colour photographs, of a truly large number of surviving wall paintings. PARERGON
No reader can fail to find the photographs wholly illuminating. CORNERSTONE
How welcome the publication of this book is! [...] It is genuinely exciting to turn the book's pages and to see these vigorous, relatively unknown designs. [...] the effort and ingenuity that has gone into presenting and synthesizing this material makes the book extremely valuable. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW
Rosewell has done a service to readers, learned and unlearned, by gathering these examples together. TLS
A well-written and handsomely presented book, certain to appeal to a wide readership. [...] The great strength of the book is in its wonderful colour pictures: of both familiar and unexpected subjects, and usually of higher quality than published before. BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
A splendid book [...] Mr Rosewell knows what he is talking about, and explains how the paintings were made, what they mean, who paid for them, and how they've fared since. CHRISTOPHER HOWSE, DAILY TELEGRAPH
My Easter book of the year...a magisterial compendium of this most elusive English vernacular form. SIMON JENKINS, THE GUARDIAN
One of the most interesting, useful and attractive books on the medieval church to appear for some time. [...] Well-written and accessible. BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY
A long-awaited and very comprehensive survey that will be of major interest to all those interested in exploring ancient parish churches. COUNTRY LIFE
[A] hugely enjoyable book [...] Any church explorer will find... much to delight them.
This is a book to be enjoyed and made use of by every person interested in our church heritage. THE ROUND TOWER MAGAZINE
[The author] has done us an invaluable service with his critical appreciation of this precious heritage. OXFORD TIMES
What a wonderful contribution this book is! [T]he importance of this book is immense. REFERENCE REVIEWS

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