Saturday, August 3, 2013

Icon wall-paintings, St. Albans Cathedral

It is a rare spectacle to find icon wall paintings in a Western Cathedral, especially an Anglican one. However, St. Albans Cathedral has a number of magnificent icons on its walls and columns, being outstanding and of national importance. These date from the late 12th century until the 16th century, representing an extensive set of medieval wall paintings.

The subjects were carefully chosen to present the whole sum of knowledge of God’s ordered world and his divine purpose for his people. Since the abbot commissioned the paintings, it was he who chose the subjects and decided where they should be placed.

After the Reformation in the 16th century, they were hidden under whitewash and not rediscovered until 1862. However, removing the lime-based wash destroyed much of the colour and detail.

There are 5 crucifixions, a number of Saints – including St. Alban and St. Amphibalus - , scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, a number of apostles, incsriptions, royal shields and many masonry patterns. Nevertheless, despite following the Western type of painting, there seems to be an Eastern or Byzantine influence in regards to the way the icons were painted. 

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