MURAL DECORATION, a general term for the art of ornamenting wall surfaces. There is scarcely one of the numerous branches of decorative art which has not at some time or other been applied to this purpose. 1 For what may be called the practical or furnishing point of view, see WALL-COVERINGS. Here the subject is treated rather as part of the history of art.
x. Reliefs sculptured in Marble or Stone. This is the oldest method of wall-decoration, of which numerous examples exist. The tombs and temples of Egypt are rich in this kind of mural ornament of various dates, extending over nearly 5000 years. These sculptures are, as a rule, carved in low relief; in many cases they are " counter-sunk," that is, the most projecting parts of the figures do not extend beyond the flat surface of the ground. Some unfinished reliefs discovered in the rock-cut tombs of Thebes show the manner in which the sculptor set to work. The plain surface of the stone was marked out by red lines into a number of squares of equal size. The use of this was probably twofold: first, as a guide in enlarging the design from a small drawing, a method still commonly practised; second, to help the artist to draw his figures with just proportions, following the strict canons which were laid down by the Egyptians. No excessive realism or individuality of style arising from a careful study of the life-model was permitted. 2 When the surface had been covered with these squares, the artist drew with a brush dipped in red the outlines of his relief, and then cut round them with his chisel.
When the relief was finished, it was, as a rule, entirely painted over with much minuteness and great variety of colours. More rarely the ground was left the natural tint of the stone or marble, and only the figures and hieroglyphs painted. In the case of sculpture in hard basalt or granite the painting appears often to have been omitted altogether. The absence of perspective effects and the severe self-restraint of the sculptors in the matter of composition show a sense of artistic fitness in this kind of decoration. That the rigidity of these sculptured pictures did not arise from want of skill or observation of nature on the part of the artists is apparent when we examine their representations of birds and animals; the special characteristics of each creature and species were unerringly caught by the ancient Egyptian, and reproduced in stone or colour, in a half-symbolic way, suggesting those peculiarities of form, plumage, or movement which are the " differentia " of each, other ideas bearing less directly on the point being eliminated.
The subjects of these mural sculptures are endless; almost every possible incident in man's life here or beyond the grave is reproduced with the closest detail. The tomb of Tih at Sakkarah (about 4500 B.C.) has some of the finest and earliest specimens of these mural sculptures, especially rich in illustra- 1 See also CERAMICS ; MOSAIC ; PAINTING ; SCULPTURE ; TAPESTRY ; TILES; also Egypt; Art and Archaeology; GREEK ART; ROMAN ART; etc.
1 During the earliest times more than 4000 years before our era there appear to have been exceptions to this rule.
lions of the domestic life and occupations of the Egyptians. The latter tombs, as a rule, have sculptures depicting the religious ritual and belief of the people, and the temples combine these hieratic subjects with the history of the reigns and victor'es of the Egyptian kings.
The above remarks as to style and manner of execution may be applied also to the wall-sculptures from the royal palaces of Nineveh and Babylon, the finest of which are shown by inscriptions to date from the time of Sennacherib to that of Sardanapalus (from 705 to 625 B.C.). These are carved in low relief with almost gem-like delicacy of detail on enormous slabs of white marble. The sacred subjects, generally representing the king worshipping one of the numerous Assyrian gods, are mostly large, often colossal in scale. The other subjects, illustrating the life and amusements of the king, his prowess in war or hunting, or long processions of prisoners and tribute-bearers coming to do him homage, are generally smaller and in some cases very minute in scale (fig. i). The arrangement of these reliefs FIG. i. -Assyrian Relief, on a Marble Wall-slab from the Palace of Sardanapalus at Nineveh.
in long horizontal bands, and their reserved conventional treatment are somewhat similar to those of ancient Egypt, but they show a closer attention to anatomical truth and a greater love for dramatic effect than any of the Egyptian reliefs. As in the art of Egypt, birds and animals are treated with greater realism than human figures. A relief in the British Museum, representing a lioness wounded by an arrow in her spine and dragging helplessly her paralysed hind legs, affords an example of wonderful truth and pathos. Remarkable technical skill is shown in all these sculptures by the way in which the sculptors have obtained the utmost amount of effect with the smallest possible amount of relief, in this respect calling strongly to mind a similar peculiarity in the work of the Florentine Donatello.
The palace at Mashita on the hajj road in Moab, built by the Sasanian Chosroes II. (A.D. 614-627), is ornamented on the exterior with beautiful surface sculpture in stone. The designs are of peculiar interest as forming a link between Assyrian and Byzantine art, and they are not remotely connected with the decoration on Moslem buildings of comparatively modern date. 3 Especially in Italy during the middle ages a similar treatment * Among the Mashita carvings occurs that oldest and most widely spread of all forms of Aryan ornament the sacred tree between two animals. The sculptured slab over the " lion-gate " at Mycenae has the other common variety of this motive^ the fire-altar between the beasts. These designs, occasionally varied by figures of human worshippers instead of the beasts, survived long after their meaning had been forgotten; even down to the present day they frequently appear on carpets and other textiles of Oriental manufacture.
of marble in low relief was frequently used for wall-decoration. The most notable example is the beautiful series of reliefs on the west front of Orvieto Cathedral, the work of Giovanni Pisano and his pupils in the early part of the 14th century. These are small reliefs, illustrative of the Old and New Testaments, of graceful design and skilful execution. A growth of branching foliage serves to unite and frame the tiers of subjects.
Of a widely different class, but of considerable importance in the history of mural decoration, are the beautiful reliefs, sculptured in stone and marble, with which Moslem buildings in many parts of the world are ornamented. These are mostly geometrical patterns of great intricacy, which cover large surfaces, frequently broken up into panels by bands of more flowing ornament or Arabic inscriptions. The mosques of Cairo, India and Persia, and the domestic Moslem buildings of Spain are extremely rich in this method of decoration. In western Europe, especially during the 15th century, stone panelled-work with rich tracery formed a large part of the scheme of decoration in all the more splendid buildings. Akin to this, though without actual relief, is the stone tracery inlaid flush into rough flint walls which was a mode of ornament largely used for enriching the exteriors of churches in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. It is almost peculiar to that district, and is an example of the skill and taste with which the medieval builders adapted their method of ornamentation to the materials in hand.
2. Marble Veneer. Another widely used method of mural decoration has been the application of thin marble linings to wall-surfaces, the decorative effect being produced by the natural beauty of the marble itself and not by sculptured reliefs. One of the oldest buildings in the world, the so-called " Temple of the Sphinx " among the Giza pyramids, is built of great blocks of granite, the inside of the rooms being lined with slabs of semitransparent African alabaster about 3 in. thick. In the 1st century thin veneers of richly coloured marbles were largely used by the Romans to decorate brick and stone walls. Pliny (H. N. xxxvi. 6) speaks of this practice as being a new and degenerate invention in his time. Many examples exist at Pompeii and in other Roman buildings. Numerous Byzantine churches, such as St Saviour's at Constantinople, and St George's, Thessalonica, have the lower part of the internal walls richly ornamented in this way. It was commonly used to form a dado, the upper part of the building being covered with mosaic. The cathedral of Monreale and other Siculo-Norman buildings owe a great deal of their splendour to these linings of richly variegated marbles. In most cases the main surface is of light-coloured marble or alabaster, inlaid bands of darker tint or coloured mosaic being used to divide the surface into panels. The peculiar ItalianGothic of northern and central Italy during the 14th and isth centuries, and at Venice some centuries earlier, relied greatly for its effects on this treatment of marble. St Mark's at Venice and the cathedral of Florence are magnificent examples of this work used externally. Both inside and out most of the richest examples of Moslem architecture owe much to this method of decoration; the mosques and palaces of India and Persia are in many cases completely lined with the most brilliant sorts of marble of contrasting tints.
3. Wall-Linings of Glazed Bricks or Tiles. This is a very important class of decoration, and from its almost imperishable nature, its richness of colour, and its brilliance of surface is capable of producing a splendour of effect only rivalled by glass mosaics. In the less important form that of bricks modelled or stamped in relief with figures and inscriptions, and then coated with a brilliant colour in siliceous enamel it was largely used by the ancient Egyptians and Assyrians as well as by the later Sasanians of Persia. In the nth and 12th centuries the Moslems of Persia brought this art to great perfection, and used it on a large scale, chiefly, though not invariably, for internal walls. The main surfaces were covered by thick earthenware tiles, overlaid with a white enamel. These were not rectangular, but of various shapes, mostly some form of a star, arranged so as to fit closely together. Delicate and minute patterns were then painted on the tiles, after the first firing, in a copper-like colour with strong metallic lustre, produced by the deoxidization of a metallic salt in the process of the second firing. Bands and friezes with Arabic inscriptions, modelled boldly in high relief, were used to break up the monotony of the surface. In these, as a rule, the projecting letters were painted blue, and the flat ground enriched with very minute patterns in the lustre-colour. This combination of bold relief and delicate painting produces great vigour and richness of effect, equally telling whether viewed in the mass or closely examined tile by tile. In the 15th century lustre-colours, though still largely employed for plates, vases and other vessels, especially in Spain, were little used for tiles; and another class of ware, rich in the variety and brilliance of its colours, was extensively used by Moslem builders all over the Mahommedan world. The most sumptuous sorts of tiles used for wall-coverings are those of the so-called " Rhodian " and Damascene wares, the work of Persian potters at many places. Those made at Rhodes are coarsely executed in comparison with the produce of the older potteries at Isfahan and Damascus (see CERAMICS). These are rectangular tiles of earthenware, covered with a white " slip," and painted in brilliant colours with slight conventionalized representations of various flowers, especially the rose, the hyacinth and the carnation. The red used is applied in considerable body, so as to stand out in slight relief. Another class of design is more geometrical, forming regular repeats; but the most beautiful compositions are those in which the natural growth of trees and flowers is imitated, the branches and blossoms spreading over a large surface covered by hundreds of tiles without any repetition. One of the finest examples is the " Mecca wall " in the mosque of Ibrahim Agha, Cairo; and other Egyptian mosques are adorned in the same way (fig. 2). Another variety, the special production of Damascus, FIG. 2. One of the Wall-tiles from the Mosque of Ibrahim Agha, Cairo. (10 in. square.)
has the design almost entirely executed in blue. It was about A.D. 1600, in the reign of Shah Abbas I., that this class of pottery was brought to greatest perfection, and it is in Persia that the most magnificent examples are found, dating from the izth to the 17th centuries. The most remarkable examples for beauty and extent are the mosque at Tabriz, built by Ah' Khoja in the 12th century, the ruined tomb of Sultan Khodabend (A.D. 1303- 1316) at Sultaniyas, the palace of Shah Abbas I. and the tomb of Abbas II. (d. A.D. 1666) at Isfahan, all of which buildings are covered almost entirely inside and out.
Another important class of wall-tiles are those manufactured by the Spanish Moors, called " azulejos," especially during the 14th century. These are in a very different style, being designed to suggest or imitate mosaic. They have intricate interlacing geometrical patterns marked out by lines in slight relief; brilliant enamel colours were then burned into the tile, the projecting lines forming boundaries for the pigments. A rich effect is produced by this combination of relief apd colour. They are mainly used for dadoes about 4 ft. high, often surmounted by a band of tiles with painted inscriptions. The Alhambra and Generalife Palaces at Granada, begun in the 13th century, but mainly built and decorated by Yusuf I. and Mahommed V. (A.D. 1333-1391), and the Alcazar at Seville have the most beautiful examples of these " azulejos." The latter building chiefly owes its decorations to Pedro the Cruel (A.D. 1364), who employed Moorish workmen for its tile-coverings and other ornaments. Many other buildings in southern Spain are enriched in the same way, some as late as the 16th century.
Almost peculiar to Spain are a variety of wall-tile the work of Italians in the 16th and 17th centuries. These are effective, though rather coarsely painted, and have a rich yellow as the predominant colour. The Casa de Pilatos and Isabel's Chapel in the Alcazar Palace, both at Seville, have the best specimens of these, dating about the year 1 500. In other Western countries tiles have been used more for pavements than for wall-decoration.
4. Wall-Coverings of Hard Stucco, frequently enriched with Reliefs. The Greeks and Romans possessed the secret of making a hard kind of stucco, creamy in colour, and capable of receiving a polish like that of marble; it would stand exposure to the weather. Those of the early Greek temples which were built, not of marble, but of stone, such as the Doric temples at Aegina, Phigaleia, Paestum and Agrigentum, were all entirely coated inside and out with this material, an admirable surface for the further polychromatic decoration with which all Greek buildings seem to have been ornamented. Another highly artistic use of stucco among the Greeks and Romans, for the interiors of buildings, consisted in covering the walls and vaults with a smooth coat, on which while still wet the outlines of figures, FIG. 3. Modelled Stucco Wall-Relief, from a Tomb in Magna Graecia. (About half full size.)
groups and other ornaments were sketched with a point; more stucco was then applied in lumps and rapidly modelled into delicate relief before it had time to set. Some tombs in Magna Graecia of the 4th century B.C. are decorated in this way with figures of nymphs, cupids, animals and wreaths, all of which are models of grace and elegance, and remarkable for the dexterous way in which a few rapid touches of the modelling tool or thumb have produced a work of the highest artistic beauty (fig. 3). Roman specimens of this sort of decoration are common, fine examples have been found in the baths of Titus and numerous tombs near Rome, as well as in many of the houses of Pompeii.
FIG. 4. Stucco Wall-Relief, from the Alhambra.
These are mostly executed with great skill and frequently with good taste, though in some cases, especially at Pompeii, elaborate architectural compositions with awkward attempts at effects of violent perspective, modelled in slight relief on flat wall-surfaces, produce an unpleasing effect. Other Pompeian examples, where the surface is divided into flat panels, each containing a figure or group, have great merit for their delicate richness, v/ithout offending against the canons of wall-decoration, one of the first conditions of which is that no attempt should be made to disguise the fact of its being a solid wall and a flat surface.
The Moslem architects of the middle ages made great use of stucco ornament both for external and internal walls. The stucco is modelled in high or low relief in great variety of geometrical patterns, alternating with bands of more flowing ornament or long Arabic inscriptions. Many of their buildings, such as the mosque of Tulun at Cairo (A.D. 879), owe nearly all their beauty to this fine stucco work, the purely architectural shell of the structure being often simple and devoid of ornament. These stucco reliefs were, as a rule, further decorated with delicate painting in gold and colours. The Moorish tower at Segovia in Spain is a good example of this class of ornament used externally. With the exception of a few bands of brick and the stone quoins at the angles, the whole exterior of the tower is covered with a network of stucco reliefs in simple geometrical patterns. The Alhambra at Granada and the Alcazar at Seville have the richest examples of this work. The lower part of the walls is lined with marble or tiles to a height of about 4 ft. and above that in many cases the whole surface is encrusted with these reliefs, the varied surface of which, by producing endless gradations of shadow, takes away any possible harshness from the brilliance of the gold and colours (fig. 4).
During the 16th century, and even earlier, stucco wall-reliefs were used with considerable skill and decorative effect in Italy, England and other Western countries. Perhaps the most graceful examples are the reliefs with which Vasari in the 16th century encrusted pillars and other parts of the court in the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio, built of plain stone by Michelozzo in 1454. Some are of flowing vines and other plants winding spirally round the columns. The English examples of this work are effectively designed, though coarser in execution. The outside of a half-timbered house in the market-place at Newark- uponTrent has high reliefs in stucco of canopied figures, dating from the end of the 15th century. The counties of Essex and Suffolk are rich in examples of this work used externally; and many 16th-century houses in England have fine internal stucco decoration, especially Hardwicke Hall (Derbyshire), one of the rooms of which has the upper part of the wall enriched with life-sized stucco figures in high relief, forming a deep frieze all round.
5. Sgraffito. This is a variety of stucco work used chiefly in Italy from the 16th century downwards, and employed only for exteriors of buildings, especially the palaces of Tuscany and northern Italy. The wall is covered with a coat of stucco made black by an admixture of charcoal; over this a second thin coat of white stucco is laid. When it is all hard the design is produced by cutting and scratching away the white skin, so as to show the black under-coat. Thus the drawing appears in black on a white ground. This work is effective at a distance, as it requires a bold style of handling, in which the shadows are indicated by cross-hatched lines more or less near together. 1 Flowing arabesques mixed with grotesque figures occur most frequently in sgraffito. In recent years the sgraffito method has been revived; and the result of Mr Moody's experiments may be seen on the east wall of the Royal College of Science in Exhibition Road, London.
6. Stamped Leather. This was a magnificent and expensive form of wall-hanging, chiefly used during the 16th and lyth centuries. Skins, generally of goats or calves, were well tanned and cut into rectangular shapes. They were then covered with FIG. 5. Italian Stamped Leather; 16th century, silver leaf, which was varnished with a transparent yellow lacquer making the silver look like gold. The skins were then stamped or embossed with patterns in relief, formed by heavy pressure from metal dies, one in relief and the other sunk. The reliefs were then painted by hand in many colours, generally brilliant 1 A good description of the process is given by Vasari, Tre arti del disegno, cap. xxvi.
in tone. Italy and Spain (especially Cordova) were important seats of this manufacture; and in the 17th century a large quantity was produced in France. Fig. 5 gives a good example of Italian stamped leather of the 16th century. In England, chiefly at Norwich, this manufacture was carried on in the 17th and 18th centuries. In durability and richness of effect stamped leather surpasses most other forms of movable walldecoration.
7. Painted Cloth. Another form of wall-hanging, used most largely during the 15th and 16th centuries, and in a less extensive way a good deal earlier, is canvas painted to imitate tapestry. English medieval inventories both of ecclesiastical and domestic goods frequently contain items such as these: " stayned cloths for hangings," " paynted cloths with stories and batailes," or " paynted cloths of beyond sea work," or " of Flaunder's work." Many good artists working at Ghent and Bruges during the first half of the 15th century produced fine work of this class, as well as designs for real tapestry. Several of the great Italian artists devoted their skill in composition and invention to the painting of these wall-hangings. The most important existing example is the series of paintings of the triumph of Julius Caesar executed by Andrea Mantegna (1485-1492) for Ludovico Gonzaga, duke of Mantua, and now at Hampton Court. These are usually, but wrongly, called " cartoons," as if they were designs meant to be executed in tapestry; this is not the case, as the paintings themselves were used as wall-hangings. They are nine in number and each compartment, 9 ft. square, was separated from the next by a pilaster. They form a continuous procession, with lifesized figures, remarkable for their composition, drawing and delicate colouring the latter unfortunately much disguised by " restoration." Like most of these painted wall-hangings, they are executed in tempera, and rather thinly painted, so that the pigment might not crack off through the cloth falling slightly into folds. Another remarkable series of painted cloth hangings are those at Reims Cathedral. In some cases dyes were used for this work. A MS. of the isth century gives receipts for " painted cloth," showing that sometimes they were dyed in a manner similar to those Indian stuffs which were afterwards printed, and are now called chintzes. These receipts are for real dyes, not for pigments, and among them is the earliest known description of the process called "setting" the woad or indigo vat, as well as a receipt for removing or " discharging " the colour from a cloth already dyed. Another method employed was a sort of " encaustic " process; the cloth was rubbed all over with wax, and then painted in tempera; heat was then applied so that the colours sank into the melting wax, and were thus firmly fixed upon the cloth.
8. Printed Hangings and Wail-Papers. The printing of various textiles with dye-colours and mordants is probably one of the most ancient arts. Pliny (H. N. xxxv.) describes a dyeing process employed by the ancient Egyptians, in which the pattern was probably formed by printing from blocks. Various methods have been used for this work wood blocks in relief, engraved metal plates, stencil plates and even handpainting; frequently two or more of these methods have been employed for the same pattern. The use of printed stuffs is of great antiquity among the Hindus and Chinese, and was certainly practised in western Europe in the 13th century, and perhaps earlier. The Victoria and Albert Museum has 13th-century specimens of block-printed silk made in Sicily, of beautiful design. Towards the end of the 14th century a great deal of block-printed linen was made in Flanders, and largely imported into England.
Wall-papers did not come into common use in Europe till the 18th century, though they appear to have been used much earlier by the Chinese. A few rare examples exist in England which may be as early as the 16th century; these are imitations, generally in flock, of the fine old Florentine and Genoese cut velvets, and hence the style of the design in no way shows the date of the wall-paper, the same traditional patterns being reproduced for many years with little or no change. Machinery enabling paper to be made in long strips was not invented till the end of the 18th century, and up to that time wall-papers were printed on small square pieces of hand-made paper, difficult to hang, disfigured by numerous joints, and comparatively costly; on these accounts wall-papers were slow in superseding the older modes of mural decoration. A little work by Jackson of Battersea, printed in London in 1744, throws some light on the use of wall-papers at that time. He gives reduced copies of his designs, mostly taken from Italian pictures or antique sculpture during his residence in Venice. Instead of flowing patterns covering the wall, his designs are all pictures landscapes, architectural scenes or statues treated as panels, with plain paper or painting between. They are all printed in oil, with wooden blocks worked with a rolling press, apparently an invention of his own. They are all in the worst possible taste, and yet are offered as great improvements on the Chinese papers which he says were then in fashion. Fig. 6 is a good English FIG. 6. Early 18th-century Wail-Paper. (22 in. wide.) example of 18th-century wall-paper printed on squares of stout hand-made paper 22 in. wide. The design is apparently copied from an Indian chintz.
9. Painting. This is naturally the most important and the most widely used of all forms of wall-decoration, as well as perhaps the earliest.
Egypt (see Egypt: Art and Archaeology) is the chief storehouse of ancient specimens of this, as of almost all the arts. Owing to the intimate connexion between the platings, sculpture and painting of early times, the remarks above as to subjects and treatment under the head of Egyptian wall-sculpture will to a great extent apply also to the paintings. It is an important fact, which testifies to the antiquity of Egyptian civilization, that the earliest paintings, dating more than 4000 years before our era, are also the cleverest both in drawing and execution. In later times the influence of Egyptian art, especially in painting, was important even among distant nations. In the 6th century B.C. Egyptian colonists, introduced by Cambyses into Persepolis, influenced the painting and sculpture of the great Persian Empire and throughout the valley of the Euphrates. In a lesser degree the art of Babylon and Nineveh had felt considerable Egyptian influence several centuries earlier. The same influence affected the early art of the Greeks and the Etrurians, and it was not till the middle of the 5th century B.C. that the further development and perfecting of art in Greece obliterated the old traces of Egyptian mannerism. After the death of Alexander the Great, when Egypt came into the possession of the Lagidae (320 B.C.), the tide of influence flowed the other way, and Greek art modified though it did not seriously alter the characteristics of Egyptian painting and sculpture, which retained much of their early formalism and severity. Yet the increased sense of beauty, especially in the human face, derived from the Greeks was counterbalanced by loss of vigour; art under the Ptolemies became a dull copy ism of earlier traditions.
The general scheme of mural painting in the buildings of ancient Egypt was complete and magnificent. Columns, mouldings and other architectural features were enriched with patterns in brilliant colours; the fiat wall -spaces were covered with figure-subjects, generally in horizontal bands, and the ceilings were ornamented with sacred symbols, such as the vulture or painted blue and studded with gold stars to symbolize the sky. The wall-paintings are executed in tempera on a thin skin (Taken from Lottie's Ride in Egypt.)
FIG. 7. Egyptian Wall-Painting of the Ancient Empire in the Bulak Museum.
of fine lime, laid over the brick, stone or marble to form a smooth and slightly absorbent coat to receive the pigments, which were most brilliant in tone and of great variety of tint. Not employing fresco, the Egyptian artists were not restricted to " earth colours," but occasionally used purples, pinks and greens which would have been destroyed by fresh lime. The blue used is very beautiful, and is generally laid on in considerable body it is frequently a " smalt " or deep-blue glass, coloured by copper oxide, finely powdered. Red and yellow ochre, carbon-black, and powdered chalk-white are most largely used. Though in the paintings of animals and birds considerable realism is often seen (fig. 7), yet for human figures certain conventional colours are employed, e.g. white for females' flesh, red for the males, or black to indicate people of negro race. Heads are painted in profile, and little or no shading is used. Considerable knowledge of harmony is shown in the arrangement of the colours; and otherwise harsh combinations of tints are softened and brought into keeping by thin separating lines of white or yellow. Though at first sight the general colouring, if seen in a museum, may appear crude, yet it should be remembered that the internal paintings were much softened by the dim light in Egyptian buildings, and those outside were subdued by contrast with the brilliant sunshine under which they were always seen.
The rock-cut sepulchres of the Etrurians supply the only existing specimens of their mural painting; and, unlike the tombs of Egypt, only a small proportion appear to BtruKM have been decorated in this way. The actual dates p a i a ti ag . of these paintings are very uncertain, but they range possibly from about the 8th century B.C. down to almost the Christian era. The tombs which possess these paintings are mostly square-shaped rooms, with slightly-arched or gabled roofs, excavated in soft sandstone or tufa hillsides. The earlier ones show Egyptian influence in drawing and in composition : they are broadly designed with flat unshaded tints, the faces in profile, except the eyes, which are drawn as if seen in front. Colours, as in Egypt, are used conventionally male flesh red, white or pale yellow for the females, black for demons. In one respect these paintings differ from those of the Egyptians; few colours are used red, brown, and yellow ochres, carbon-black, lime or chalk-white, and occasionally blue are the only pigments. The rock-walls are prepared by being covered with a thin skin of lime stucco, and lime or chalk is mixed in small quantities with all the colours; hence the restriction to " earth pigments," made necessary by the dampness of these subterranean chambers. The process employed was in fact a kind of fresco, though the stucco ground was not applied in small patches only sufficient for the day's work; the dampness of the rock was enough to keep the stucco skin moist, and so allow the necessary infiltration of colour from the surface. Many of these paintings when first discovered were fresh in tint and uninjured by time, but they are soon dulled by exposure to light. In the course of centuries great changes of style naturally took place; the early Egyptian influence, probably brought to Etruria through the Phoenician traders, was succeeded by an even more strongly-marked Greek influence at first archaic and stiff, then developing into great beauty of drawing, and finally yielding to the Roman spirit, as the degradation of Greek art advanced under their powerful but inartistic Roman conquerors.
Throughout this succession of styles Egyptian, Greek and Graeco-Roman there runs a distinct undercurrent of individuality due to the Etruscans themselves. This appears not only in the drawing but also in the choice of subjects. In addition to pictures of banquets with musicians and dancers, hunting and racing scenes, the workshops of different craftsmen and other domestic subjects, all thoroughly Hellenic in sentiment, other paintings occur which are very un-Greek in feeling. These represent the judgment and punishment of souls in a future life. Mantus, Charun and other infernal deities of the Rasena, hideous in aspect and armed with hammers, or furies depicted as black-bearded demons winged and brandishing live snakes, terrify or torture shrinking human souls. Others, not the earliest in date, represent human sacrifices, such as those at the tomb of Patroclus a class of subjects which, though Homeric, appears rarely to have been selected by Greek painters. The constant import into Etruria of large quantities of fine Greek painted vases appears to have contributed to keep up the supremacy of Hellenic influence during many centuries, and by their artistic superiority to have prevented the development of a more original and native school of art. Though we now know Etruscan painting only from the tombs, yet Pliny mentions (H . N. xxxv. 3) that fine wall-paintings existed in his time, with colours yet fresh, on the walls of ruined temples at Ardea and Lanuvium, executed, he says, before the founding of Rome. As before mentioned, the actual dates of the existing paintings are uncertain. It cannot therefore be asserted that any existing specimens are much older than 600 B.C., though some, especially at Veii, certainly appear to have the characteristics of more remote antiquity. The most important of these paintings have been discovered in the cemeteries of Veii, Caere, Tarquinii, Vulci, Cervetri and other Etruscan cities.
Even in Egypt the use of colour does not appear to have been more universal than it was among the Greeks (see GREEK ART), Greek w ^ a PP ue d ' lt freely to their marble statues and Paiatiag. reliefs, the whole of their buildings inside and out, as well as for the decoration of flat wall-surfaces. They appear to have cared little for pure form, and not to have valued the delicate ivory-like tint and beautiful texture of their fine Pentelic and Parian marbles, except as a ground for coloured ornament. A whole class of artists, called A-yaX/jdmoi' tyKavarai, were occupied in colouring marble sculpture, and their services were very highly valued. 1 In seme cases, probably for the sake of 1 This process, circumlitio, is mentioned by Pliny (H. N. xxxv. 40).
hiding the joints and getting a more absorbent surface, the marble, however pure and fine in texture, was covered with a thin skin of stucco made of mixed lime and powdered marble. An alabaster sarcophagus, found in a tomb near Corneto, and now in the Etruscan museum at Florence, is decorated outside with beautiful purely Greek paintings, executed on a stucco skin as hard and smooth as the alabaster. The pictures represent combats of the Greeks and Amazons. The colouring, though rather brilliant, is simply treated, and the figures are kept strictly to one plane without any attempt at complicated perspective. Other valuable specimens of Greek art, found at Herculaneum and now in the Naples Museum, are some small paintings, one of girls playing with dice, another of Theseus and the Minotaur. These are painted with miniature-like delicacy on the bare surface of marble slabs; they are almost monochromatic, and are of the highest beauty both in drawing and in gradations of shadow quite unlike any of the Greek vase-paintings. The first-mentioned painting is signed AAEEANAPOS A6HNAI02. It is probable that the strictly archaic paintings of the Greeks, such as those of Polygnotus in the 5th century B.C., executed with few and simple colours, had much resemblance to those on vases, but Pliny is wrong when he asserts that, till the time of Apelles (c. 350-310 B.C.), the Greek painters only used black, white, red and yellow. 2 Judging from the peculiar way in which the Greeks and their imitators the Romans used the names of colours, it appears that they paid more attention to tones and relations of colour than to actual hues. Thus most Greek and Latin colour-names are now untranslatable. Homer's " winelike sea " (olvoi/), Sophocles's " wine-coloured ivy " ((Ed. Col.), and Horace's " purpureus olor " probably refer less to what we should call colour than to the chromatic strength of the various objects and their more or less strong powers of reflecting light, either in motion or when at rest. Nor have we any word like Virgil's " flavus," which could be applied both to a lady's hair and to the leaf of an olive-tree. 3 During the best periods of Greek art the favourite classes of subjects were scenes from poetry, especially Homer and contemporary history. The names TnvaKoOriia] and trroa iromXij were given to many public buildings from their walls being covered with paintings. Additional interest was given to the historical subjects by the introduction of portraits; e.g. in the great picture of the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.), on the walls of the errod irotKtXij in Athens, portraits were given of the Greek generals Miltiades, Callimachus, and others. This picture was painted about forty years after the battle by Polygnotus and Micon. One of the earliest pictures recorded by Pliny (xxxv. 8) represented a battle of the Magnesians (c. 716 B.C.); it was painted by Bularchus, a Lydian artist, and bought at a high price by King Candaules. Many other important Greek historical paintings are mentioned by Pausanias and earlier writers. The Pompeian mosaic of the defeat of the Persians by Alexander is probably a Romanized copy from some celebrated Greek painting; it obviously was not designed for mosaic work.
Landscape painting appears to have been unknown among the Greeks, even as a background to figure-subjects. The poems especially of Homer and Sophocles show that this was not through want of appreciation of the beauties of nature, but partly, probably, because the main object of Greek painting was to tell some definite story, and also from their just sense of artistic fitness, which prevented them from attempting in their mural decorations to disguise the flat solidity of the walls by delusive effects of aerial perspective and distance.
It is interesting to note that even in the time of Alexander the Great the somewhat archaic works of the earlier painters were still appreciated. In particular Aristotle praises Polygnotus, * Pliny's remarks on subjects such as this should be received with caution. He was neither a scientific archaeologist nor a practical artist.
s So also a meaning unlike ours is attached to Greek technical words by rivm they meant, not " tone," but the gradations of light and shade, and by ApiMty/i the relations of colour. See Pliny, H. N. xxxv. 5 ; and Ruskin, Mod. Painters, pt. iv. cap. 13.
both for his power of combining truth with idealization in his portraits and for his skill in depicting men's mental characteristics; on this account he calls him 6 i70o7P<i</>os. Lucian too praises Polygnotus alike for his grace, drawing and colouring. Later painters, such as Zeuxis and Apelles, appear to have produced easel pictures more than mural paintings, and these, being easy to move, were mostly carried off to Rome by the early emperors. Hence Pausanias, who visited Greece in the time of Hadrian, mentions but few works of the later artists. Owing to the lack of existing specimens of Greek painting it would be idle to attempt an account of their technical methods, but no doubt those employed by the Romans described below were derived with the rest of their art from the Greeks. Speaking of their stucco, Pliny refers its superiority over that made by the Romans to the fact that it was always made of lime at least three years old, and that it was well mixed and pounded in a mortar before being laid on the wall; he is here speaking of the thick stucco in many coats, not of the thin skin mentioned above as being laid on marble. Greek mural painting, like their sculpture, was chiefly used to decorate temples and public buildings, and comparatively rarely either for tombs 1 or private buildings at least in the days of their early republican simplicity.
A large number of Roman mural paintings (see also ROMAN ART) now exist, of which many were discovered in the private houses and baths of Pompeii, nearly all dating Painting, between A.D. 63, when the city was ruined by an earthquake, and A.D. 79, when it was buried by Vesuvius. A catalogue of these and similar paintings from Herculaneum and Stabiae, compiled by Professor Helbig, comprises 1 966 specimens. The excavations in the baths of Titus and other ancient buildings in Rome, made in the early part of the 16th century, excited the keenest interest and admiration among the painters of that time, and largely influenced the later art of the Renaissance. These paintings, especially the " grotesques " or fanciful patterns of scroll-work and pilasters mixed with semi-realistic foliage and figures of boys, animals and birds, designed with great freedom of touch and inventive power, seem to have fascinated Raphael during his later period, and many of his pupils and contemporaries. The " loggie " of the Vatican and of the Farnesina palace are full of carefully studied 16th-century reproductions of these highly decorative paintings. The excavations in Rome have brought to light some mural paintings of the 1st century A.D., perhaps superior in execution even to the best of the Pompeian series (see Plate).
The range of subjects found in Roman mural paintings is large mythology, religious ceremonies, genre, still life and even landscape (the latter generally on a small scale, and treated in an artificial and purely decorative way), and lastly history. Pliny mentions several large and important historical paintings, such as those with which Valerius Maximus Messala decorated the walls of the Curia Hostilia, to commemorate his own victory over Hiero II. and the Carthaginians in Sicily in the 3rd century B.C. The earliest Roman painting recorded by Pliny was by Fabius, surnamed Pictor, on the walls of the temple of Salus, executed about 300 B.C. (H.N. xxxv. 4).
Pliny (xxxv. i) laments the fact that the wealthy Romans of his time preferred the costly splendours of marble and porphyry wall-linings to the more artistic decoration of paintings by good artists. Historical painting seems then to have gone out of fashion; among the numerous specimens now existing few from Pompeii represent historical subjects; one has the scene of Massinissa and Sophonisba before Scipio, and another of a riot between the people of Pompeii and Nocera, which happened 59 A.D.
Mythological scenes, chiefly from Greek sources, occur most frequently: the myths of Eros and Dionysus are especial favourites. Only five or six relate to purely Roman mythology.
1 One instance only of a tomb-painting is mentioned by Pausanias (vii. 22). Some fine specimens have been discovered in the Crimea, but not of a very early date; see Stephani, Compte rendu, etc., (St Petersburg, 1878), etc.
We have reason to think that some at least of the Pompeian pictures are copies, probably at third or fourth hand, from celebrated Greek originals. The frequently repeated subjects of Medea meditating the murder of her children and Iphigenia at the shrine of the Tauric Artemis suggest that the motive and composition were taken from the originals of these subjects by Timanthes. Those of lo and Argus, the finest example of which is in the Palatine " villa of Livia " and of Andromeda and Perseus, often repeated on Pompeian walls, may be from the originals by Nicias.
In many cases these mural paintings are of high artistic merit, though they are probably not the work of the most distinguished painters of the time, but rather of a humbler class of decorators, who reproduced, without much original invention, stock designs out of some pattern-book. They are, however, all remarkable for the rapid skill and extreme " verve " and freedom of hand with which the designs are, as it were, flung on to the walls with few but effective touches. Though in some cases the motive and composition are superior to the execution, yet many of the paintings are remarkable both for their realistic truth and technical skill. The great painting of Ceres from Pompeii, now in the Naples Museum, is a work of the highest merit.
In the usual scheme of decoration the broad wall-surfaces are broken up into a series of panels by pilasters, columns, or other architectural forms. Some of the panels contain pictures with figure-subjects; others have conventional ornament, or hanging festoons of fruit and flowers. The lower part of the wall is painted one plain colour, forming a dado; the upper part sometimes has a well-designed frieze of flowing ornaments. In the better class of painted walls the whole is kept flat in treatment, and is free from too great subdivision, but in many cases great want of taste is shown by the introduction of violent effects of architectural perspective, and the space is broken up by ccmplicated schemes of design, studded with pictures in varying scales which have little relation to their surroundings. The colouring is on the whole pleasant and harmonious unlike the usual chromo-lithographic copies. Black, yellow, or a rich deep red are the favourite colours for the main ground of the walls, the pictures in the panels being treated separately, each with its own background.
An interesting series of early Christian mural paintings exists in various catacombs, especially those of Rome and Naples. They are of value both as an important link in the Egrly history of art and also as throwing light on the Christian mental state of the early Christians, which was dis- Painting la tinctly influenced by the older faith. Thus in the ltaly ' earlier paintings of about the 4th century we find Christ represented as a beardless youth, beautiful as the artist could make him, with a lingering tradition of Greek idealization, in no degree like the " Man of Sorrows " of medieval painters, but rather a kind of genius of Christianity in whose fair outward form the peace and purity of the new faith were visibly symbolized, just as certain distinct attributes were typified in the persons of the gods of ancient Greece. The favourite early subject, " Christ the Good Shepherd " (fig. 8), is represented as Orpheus playing on his lyre to a circle of beasts, the pagan origin of the picture being shown by the Phrygian cap and by the presence of lions, panthers and other incongruous animals among the listening sheep. In other cases Christ is depicted standing with a sheep borne on His shoulders like Hermes Criophoros or Hermes Psychopompos favourite Greek subjects, especially the former, a statue of which Pausanias (ix. 22) mentions as existing at Tanagra in Boeotia. Here again the pagan origin of the type is shown by the presence in the catacomb paintings of the panpipes and pedum, special attributes of Hermes, but quite foreign to the notion of Christ. Though in a degraded form, a good deal survives in some of these paintings, especially in the earlier ones, of the old classical grace of composition and beauty of drawing, notably in the above-mentioned representations where old models were copied without any adaptation to their new meaning. Those of the sth and 6th centuries follow the classical lines, though in a rapidly deteriorating style, until the introduction of a foreign the Byzantine element, which created a fresh starting-point on different lines. The old naturalism and survival of classical freedom of drawing is replaced by stiff, conventionally hieratic types, superior in dignity and strength to the feeble compositions produced by the degradation into which the native art of Rome had fallen. The designs of this second period of Christian art are similar to those of the mosaics, FIG. 8. Painted Vault from the Catacombs of St.Callixtus, Rome. In the centre Orpheus, to represent Christ the Good Shepherd, and round are smaller paintings of various types of Christ.
such as many at Ravenna, and also to the magnificently illuminated MSS. For some centuries there was little change or development in this Byzantine style of art, so that it is impossible in most cases to be sure from internal evidence of the date of any painting. This to some extent applies also to the works of the earlier or pagan school, though, roughly speaking, it may be said that the least meritorious pictures are the latest in date.
These catacomb paintings range over a long space of time; some may possibly be of the 1st or 2nd century, e.g. those in the cemetery of Domitilla, Rome; others are as late as the oth century, e.g. some full-length figures of St Cornelius and St Cyprian in the catacomb of St Callixtus, under which earlier paintings may be traced. In execution they somewhat resemble the Etruscan tomb-paintings; the walls of the catacomb passages and chambers, excavated in soft tufa, are covered with a thin skin of white stucco, and on that the mural and ceiling paintings are simply executed in earth colours. The favourite subjects of the earliest paintings are scenes from the Old Testament which were supposed to typify events in the life of Christ, such as the sacrifice of Isaac (Christ's death), Jonah and the whale (the Resurrection), Moses striking the rock, or pointing to the manna (Christ the water of life, and the Eucharist), and many others. The later paintings deal more with later subjects, either events in Christ's life or figures of saints and the miracles they performed. A fine series of these exists in the iower church of S. Clemente in Rome, apparently dating from the 6th to the loth centuries; among these are representations of the passion and death of Christ subjects never chosen by the earlier Christians, except as dimly foreshadowed by the Old Testament types. When Christ Himself is depicted in the early catacomb paintings it is in glory and power, not in His human weakness and suffering.
Other early Italian paintings exist on the walls of the church of the Tre Fontane near Rome, and in the Capella di S. Urbano alia Caffarella, executed in the early part of the 11th century. The atrium of S. Lorenzo fuori le mura, Rome, and the church of the Quattro Santi Incoronati have mural paintings of the first half of the 13th century, which show no artistic improvement over those at S. Clemente four or five centuries older.
It was not in fact till the second half cf the 13th century that stiff traditional Byzantine forms and colouring began to be superseded by the revival of native art in Italy by the painters of Florence, Pisa and Siena. During the fiist thirteen centuries of the Christian era mural painting appears to have been for the most part confined to the representation of sacred subjects. It is remarkable that during the earlier centuries council after council of the Christian Church forbade the painting of figure-subjects, and especially those of any Person of the Trinity; but in vain. In spite of the zeal of bishops and others, who sometimes with their own hands defaced the pictures of Christ on the walls of the churches, in spite of threats of excommunication, the forbidden paintings by degrees became more numerous, till the walls of almost every church throughout Christendom were decorated with whole series of pictured stories. The useless prohibition was becoming obsolete when, towards the end of the 4th century, the learned Paulinus, bishop of Nola, ordered the two basilicas which he had built at Fondi and Nola to be adorned with wallpaintings of sacred subjects, with the special object, as he says, of instructing and refining the ignorant and drunken people. These painted histories were in fact the books of the unlearned, and we can now hardly realize their value as the chief mode of religious teaching in ages when none but the clergy could read or write.
During the middle ages, just as long before among the ancient Greeks, coloured decoration was used in the widest possible manner not only for the adornment of flat walls, English but also for the enrichment of sculpture and all the Mural fittings and architectural features of buildings, P'fattag. whether the material to be painted was plaster, stone, marble or wood. It was only the damp and frosts of northern climates that to some extent limited the external use of colour to the less exposed parts of the outsides of buildings. The varying tints and texture of smoothly worked stone appear to have given no pleasure to the medieval eye; and in the rare cases in which the poverty of some country church prevented its walls from being adorned with painted ornaments or pictures the whole surface of the stonework inside, mouldings and carving as well as flat wall-spaces, was covered with a thin coat of whitewash. Internal rough stonework was invariably concealed by stucco, forming a smooth ground for possible future paintings. Unhappily a great proportion of mural paintings have been destroyed, though many in a more or less mutilated state still exist in England. It is difficult (and doubly so since the so-called " restoration " of most old buildings) to realize the splendour of effect once possessed by every important medieval church. From the tiled floor to the roof all was one mass of gold and colour. The brilliance of the mural paintings and richly coloured sculpture and mouldings was in harmony with the splendour of the oak-work screens, stalls, and roofs all decorated with gilding and painting, while the light, passing through stained glass, softened and helped to combine the whole into one mass of decorative effect. Colour was boldly applied everywhere, and thus the patchy effect was avoided which is so often the result of the modern timid and partial use of painted ornament. Even the figure-sculpture was painted in a strong and realistic manner, sometimes by a wax encaustic process, probably the same as the circumlitio of classical times. In the accounts for expenses in decorating Orvieto cathedral wax is a frequent item among the materials used for painting. In one place it is mentioned that wax was supplied to Andrea Pisano (in 1345) for the decoration of the beautiful reliefs in white marble on the lower part of the west front.
From the nth to the 16th century the lower part of the walls, generally 6 to 8 ft. from the floor, was painted with a dado the favourite patterns till the 13th century being either a sort of sham masonry with a flower in each rectangular space (fig. 9), or a conventional representation of a curtain with iegula.1 folds stiffly treated, pictures with figure-subjects FIG. 9. Wall-Paintingof the 13th century. " Masonry pattern."
Above this dado ranges of were painted in tiers one above the other, each picture frequently surrounded by a painted frame with arch and gable of architectural design. Painted bands of chevron or other geometrical ornament till the 13th century, and flowing ornament afterwards, usually divide the tiers of pictures horizontally and form the top and bottom boundaries of the dado. In the case of a church, the end walls usually have figures to a larger scale.
On the east wall of the nave over the chancel arch there was generally a large painting of the " Doom " or Last Judgment. One of the commonest subjects is a colossal figure of St Christopher (fig. 10) usually on the nave wail opposite the principal FIG. 10. Wall-Painting of St Christopher. (Large life-size.)
entrance selected because the sight of a picture of this saint was supposed to bring good luck for the rest of the day. Figures were also often painted on the jambs of the windows and on the piers and soffit of the arches, especially that opening into the chancel.
The little Norman church at Kempley in Gloucestershire (date about noo) has perhaps the best-preserved specimen of the complete early decoration of a chancel. 1 The north and south walls are occupied by figures of the twelve apostles in architectural niches, six on each side. The east wall had single figures of saints at the sides of the central window, and the stone barrel vault is covered with a representation of St John's apocalyptic vision Christ in majesty surrounded by the evangelistic beasts, the seven candlesticks and other figures. The chancel arch itself and the jambs and mouldings of the windows have stiff geometrical designs, and over the arch, towards the nave, is a large picture of the " Doom." The whole scheme is very complete, no part of the internal plaster or stonework being undecorated with colour. Though the drawing is rude, the figures and their drapery are treated broadly and with dignity. Simple earth colours are used, painted in tempera on a plain white ground, which covers alike both the plaster of the rough walls and the smooth stone of the arches and jambs.
In the 13th century the painters of England reached a high point of artistic power and technical skill, so that paintings were produced by native artists equal, if not superior, to those of the same period anywhere on the Continent. The central paintings on the walls of the chapter-house and on the retable of the high altar of Westminster Abbey are not surpassed by 1 See Archoeologia, vol. xlvi. (1880).
any of the smaller works even of such men as Cimabue and Duccio di Buoninsegna, who were living when these Westminster paintings were executed. Unhappily, partly through the poverty and anarchy brought about by the French wars and the Wars of the Roses, the development of art in England made little progress after the beginning of the 14th century, and it FIG. 1 1 . i sth-century English Painting St John the Evangelist.
was not till a time when the renaissance of art in Italy had fallen into decay that its influence reached the British shores. In the 15th century some beautiful work, somewhat affected by Flemish influence, was produced in England (fig. n), chiefly in the form of figures painted on the oak panels of chancel and chapel screens, especially in Norfolk and Suffolk; but these cannot be said to rival the works of the Van Eycks and other painters of that time in Flanders. To return to the i^th century, the culminating period of English art in painting and sculpture, much was owed to Henry III.'s love for and patronage of the fine arts; he employed a large number of painters to decorate his various castles and palaces, especially the palace of Westminster, one large hall of which was known as the " painted chamber " from the rovvs of fine pictures with which its walls were covered. After the 13th century the " masonry pattern " was disused for the lower parts of walls, and the chevrony and other stiff patterns for the borders were replaced by more flowing designs. The character of the painted figures became less monumental in style; greater freedom of drawing and treatment was adopted, and they cease to recall the archaic majesty and grandeur of the Byzantine mosaics.
It may be noted that during the 14th century wall-spaces unoccupied by figure-subjects were often covered by graceful flowing patterns, drawn with great freedom and rather avoiding geometrical repetition. Fig. 12, from the church of Stanley St Leonard's, Gloucestershire, is a good characteristic specimen of 14th-century decoration; it is on the walls of the chancel, filling up the spaces between the painted figures; the flowers are blue, and the lines red on a white ground. In some cases the motive of the design is taken from encaustic tiles, : * Bengeo Church, Herts, where tne wa U ls divided into squares, each containing an heraldic lion. This imitative notion occurs during all periods masonry, hanging curtains, tiles and architectural features such as niches and canopies being very frequently represented, though always in a simple decorative fashion with no attempt at actual deception not probably from any fixed principle that shams were wrong, but because the good taste of the medieval painters taught them that a flat unrealistic treatment gave the best and most decorative effect. Thus in the 15th and 16th centuries the commonest forms of unpictorial walldecoration were various patterns taken from the beautiful damasks and cut velvets of Sicily, Florence, Genoa and other places in Italy, some form of the " pine-apple " or rather " artichoke " pattern being the favourite (fig. 13), a design which, tury Wall-Painting.
FIG. 13. 15th-century Wall-Painting, taken from a Genoese or Florentine velvet design.
developed partly from Oriental sources, and coming to perfection at the end of the i5th century, was copied and reproduced in textiles, printed stuffs and wall-papers with but little change down to the present century a remarkable instance of survival in design. Fig. 14 is a specimen of isth-century English decorative painting, copied from a 14th-century Sicilian silk damask. Diapers, powderings with flowers, . sacred monograms and sprays of blossom were frequently used to ornament large surfaces in a simple way. Many of these are extremely beautiful (fig. IS)- Subjects of Medieval Wall- Paintings. In churches and domestic buildings alike the usual subjects represented on the walls were specially selected for their moral and religious teaching, either FIG. 14. 15th-century Wall-Painting, the design copied from a 13th-century Sicilian silk damask.
stories from the Bible and Apocrypha, or from the lives of saints, or, lastly, symbolical representations setting forth some important theological truth, such as figures of virtues and vices, or the Scala humanae salyationis, showing the. perils and temptations of the human soul in its struggle to escape hell and gain paradise a rude foreshadowing of the great scheme worked out with such perfection by Dante in his Commedia. A fine example of this subject exists on the walls of Chaldon church, Surrey. 1 In the selection of saints for paintings in England, those of English origin are naturally most frequently represented, and different districts had certain local favourites. St Thomas of Canterbury was one of the most widely popular; but few examples now remain, owing to Henry VIII.'s special dislike to this saint and the strict orders that were issued for all pictures of him to be destroyed.
For a similar reason most paintings of saintly popes were obliterated.
Methods of Execution. Though Eraclius, who probably wrote before the 10th century, mentions the use of an oil-medium, yet till about the 13th century mural paintings appear to have been executed in the most simple FIG i 5 ._p ow derings used in i 5 thway, in tempera mainly century Wall Painting, with earth colours applied on dry stucco; even when a smooth stone surface was to be painted a thin coat of whitening or fine gesso was laid as a ground. In the 131(1 century, and perhaps earlier, oil was commonly used both as a medium for the pigments and also to make a varnish to cover and fix tempera paintings. The Van Eycks introduced the use of dryers of a better kind than had yet been used, and so largely extended the application of oil-painting. Before their time it seems to have been the custom to dry wallpaintings laboriously by the use of charcoal braziers, if they were in a position where the Sun could not shine upon them. This is 'See Collections of Surrey Archaeol. Soc. vol. v. pt. ii. (1871).
specially recorded in the valuable series of accounts for the expenses of wall-paintings in the royal palace of Westminster during the reign of Henry III., printed in Vetusta monumenta, vol. vi. (1842). All the materials used, including charcoal to dry the paintings and the wages paid to the artists, are given. The materials mentioned are plumbum album el rubeum, viridus, vermilio, synople, acre, azura, aurum, argentum, collis, oleum, vernix.
Two foreign painters were employed Peter of Spain and William of Florence at sixpence a day, but the English painters seem to FIG. 16. Pattern in Stamped and Moulded Plaster, decorated with gilding and transparent colours; 15th-century work. (Full size.)
have done most of the work and received higher pay. William, an English monk in the adjoining Benedictine abbey of Westminster, received two shillings "a day. Walter of Durham and various members of the Otho family, royal goldsmiths and moneyers, worked for many years on the adornment of Henry III.'s palace and were well paid for their skill. Some fragments of paintings from the royal chapel of St Stephen are now in the British Museum. They are delicate and carefully painted subjects from the Old Testament, in rich colours, each with explanatory inscription underneath. The scale is small, the figures being scarcely a foot high. Their method of execution is curious. First the smooth stone wall was covered with a coat of red, painted in oil, probably to keep back the damp; on that a thin skin of fine gesso (stucco) has been applied, and the outlines of the figures marked with a point; the whole of the background, crowns, borders of dresses, and other ornamental parts have then been modelled and stamped with very minute patterns in slight relief, impressed on the surface of the gesso while it was yet soft. The figures have then been painted, apparently in tempera, gold leaf has been applied to the stamped reliefs, and the whole has been covered with an oil varnish. It is difficult to realize the labour required to cover large halls such as the above chapel and the " painted chamber," the latter about 83 ft. by 27 ft., with this style of decoration.
In many cases the grounds were entirely covered with shining .metal leaf, over which the paintings were executed; those parts, such as the draperies, where the metallic lustre was wanted, were painted in oil with transparent colours, while the flesh was painted in opaque tempera. The effect of the bright metal shining through the rich colouring is magnificent. This minuteness of much of the medieval wall-decoration is remarkable. Large wall-surfaces and intricate mouldings were often completely covered by elaborate gesso patterns in relief of almost microscopic delicacy (fig. 1 6). The cost of stamps for this is among the items in the Westminster accounts. These patterns when set and dry were further adorned with gold and colours. So also with the architectural painting; the artist was not content simply to pick out the various members of the mouldings in different colours, but he also frequently covered each bead or fillet with painted flowers and other patterns, as delicate as those in an illuminated MS. so minute and highlyfinished that they are almost invisible at a little distance, but yet add greatly to the general richness of effect. All this is neglected in modern reproductions of medieval painting, in which both touch and colour are coarse and harsh caricatures of the old work, such as disfigure the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, and many cathedrals in France, Germany and England. gold was never used in large quantities without the ground on which it was laid being broken up by some such delicate reliefs as that shown in fig. 16, so its effect was never dazzling, (W. Mo.; J. H. M.)
Mural painting in England fell into disuse in the 16th century, until attempts to revive it were made in the 19th century. For domestic purposes wood panelling, stamped leather, and tapestry were chiefly used as wall-coverings. In the reign of Henry VIII., probably in part through Holbein's influence, a rather coarse tempera wall-painting, German in style, appears to have been common. 1 A good example of arabesque painting of this period in black and white, rudely though boldly drawn and Holbeinesquein character, was discovered in 1881 behind the panelling in one of the canons' houses at Westminster. Other examples exist at Haddon Hall (Derbyshire) and elsewhere.
Many efforts have been made in England to revive fresco painting. The Houses of Parliament bear witness to this, the principal works there being those of William Dyce and Daniel Maclise. That of G. F. Watts, whose easel work also is generally distinguished by its mural feeling, is full of serious purpose and dignity of conception. " Buono fresco " (the painting in tempera upon a freshly laid ground of plaster while wet), " spirit fresco " or Gambier-Parry method (the painting with a spirit medium upon a specially prepared plaster or canvas ground 2 ) , and " waterglass " painting (wherein the method is similar to water-colour painting on a prepared plastered wall, the painting when finished being covered with a chemical solution which hardens and protects the surface), have all been tried. Other processes are also in the experimental stage, such as that known as Keim's, which has been successfully tried by Mrs Merritt in a series of mural paintings in a church at Chilworth. Unless, however, some means can be found of enabling the actual painted wall to resist the natural dampness of the English climate, it does not seem likely that true fresco painting can ever be naturalized in Great Britain. Of two of the few modern artists entrusted with important mural work in England, Ford Madox Brown and Frederick J. Shields, the former distinguished especially for his fine series of mural paintings in the Manchester town-hall, in the later paintings there adopted the modern method of painting the design upon canvas in flat oil colour, using a wax medium, and afterwards affixing the canvas to the wall by means of white lead. This is a usual method with modern decorators. Mr Shields has painted the panels of his scheme of mural decoration in the chapel of the Ascension at Bayswater, London, also upon canvas in oils, and has adopted the method of fixing them to slabs of slate facing the waD so as to avoid the risk of damp from the wall itself. Friezes and frieze panels or ceilings in private houses are usually painted upon canvas in oil and affixed to the wall or inserted upon their strainers, like pictures in a frame. (Walter Crane has used fibrous plaster panels, painting in ordinary oil colours with turpentine as a medium, as in Redcross Hall.) Recently there has been a revival of tempera painting, and a group of painters are producing works on panel and canvas painted in tempera or fresco secco, with yolk of egg as a medium, according to the practice of the early Italian painters and the directions of Cennino Cennini. A pure luminous quality of colour is produced, valuable in mural decoration and alsodurable, especially under varnish. (W. CR.)