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The painted ceiling of St Martin’s Church
March 18, 2011 7:49 PM   Subscribe

The earliest preserved, figuratively painted wooden ceiling in Europe can be seen above the nave of St Martin's Church in Zillis. It features beheadings, temptations, naked people, and lots and lots of fish tails.
posted by nasreddin (30 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
Behold the amazing aquatic adventures of Captain Naked Moron!
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 7:53 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Scaring the shit out of the illiterate like the Fox News of the XIIth century. Things really don't change much.

it's still pretty cool, regardless of what I think of the message.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:04 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very neat! Wikipedia says they were painted around 1130.

These remind me a bit of the paintings in the Kapellbrücke in Luzern. Those are 17th century, much newer, and much more intricate. Also secular themes. So, um, not much like Zillis at all except being Swiss. Something about the way they're framed and presented in series, though, many little scenes.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fish tails fish tails
Flappy dappy fish tails
posted by dirigibleman at 8:51 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Awesome, thanks.
posted by mwhybark at 8:53 PM on March 18, 2011


This is such a great post!

This is the oldest depiction of the Trinity in Western Europe, found in a small wayside chapel in Urschalling, Bavaria: http://freepages.religions.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jlopp/Urschalling.jpg

You'll note how special it is.
posted by jefficator at 8:54 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jefficator, could you point me to more information about that?
posted by wayland at 9:08 PM on March 18, 2011


Fantastic! So unusual to see such well preserved examples of wooden artifacts. Thanks for posting!

Also, there's a very hot and uncomfortable afterlife with eternal poking for people who rearrange things like this from their original forms. I study secondary architectural sculpture from the same period in the twelfth century and am constantly frustrated by "restorations" that place sculptural elements back with no mind to their original order.
posted by Heretic at 9:17 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very cool to see this marvelous old art. Thanks nasrudin!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:46 PM on March 18, 2011


Oh, those medieval axes.
posted by bwg at 9:52 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heretic, could these paintings have been in any way influenced by greek pottery? It's been a hell of a long time, and I seem to recall there were several schools, with varying techniques, but, damn! Boundary foliage, black brush figure line, red-white-beige - DAMN!
posted by mwhybark at 10:23 PM on March 18, 2011


No great wonder how this church and its paintings survived. It's in a deep valley in the middle of nowhere, in the thick of the Alps. 3 hours by 5 trains and buses, from my house. That's about as long as it takes to get anywhere in Switzerland. And of course, it helps that Switzerland has done so well at keeping clear of war. Good trick, that.
posted by Goofyy at 10:32 PM on March 18, 2011


"Whoa now Satan, don't take my beer can!"
posted by Artw at 10:36 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Keeping clear of war is one thing, but fire happened wherever people need heat or light. That's remarkable too.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:37 PM on March 18, 2011


jefficator: "This is such a great post!

This is the oldest depiction of the Trinity in Western Europe, found in a small wayside chapel in Urschalling, Bavaria: http://freepages.religions.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jlopp/Urschalling.jpg

You'll note how special it is
"

God's Wife? (I kid)
posted by mwhybark at 10:54 PM on March 18, 2011


I thought God's Wife was Sophia, aka the Manifestation of Knowledge while God was the manifestation of Creation? But she disapproved of their combination of thought and form and we all have to act extra nice so she'll like us again?

This is what I get for being raised religiously haphazardly.
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 PM on March 18, 2011


I shall tempt you with my platter of rocks and handmade dildos, you will not be able to resist.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 11:43 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


you are so totally right.
posted by mwhybark at 12:34 AM on March 19, 2011


Renzo Dionigi has one of the best Flickr accounts out there, browse it!
posted by fire&wings at 3:10 AM on March 19, 2011


Would you care for a mint? Oh, I couldn't possibly. But, it is only a wafer thin mint.

These are wonderful. I'm digging the borders especially.
posted by Mizu at 6:23 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


mwhybark, there's definitely a Greek aesthetic here, but also leaning towards the Byzantine. This panel in particular reminds me of Middle Byzantine squinch mosaics in places like the monastery of Hosios Loukas and the Church of the Dormition in Daphni. The color palette is like guided by the wealth of the church (or how much they wanted to spend). You see a lot of black, red, white and green where there wasn't a lot of money for the project (this is true of manuscript painting as well). A more forgiving pigment budget will allow for vivid yellows, blues, purples, deeper greens, and of course, gold.
posted by Heretic at 6:51 AM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the oldest depiction of the Trinity in Western Europe, found in a small wayside chapel in Urschalling, Bavaria

That's not the Father, Son and the Holy Mother Mary? I suppose that I should just Google it.
posted by NoMich at 7:21 AM on March 19, 2011


Ashley's nightmare.
posted by bwg at 7:24 AM on March 19, 2011


This book (Medieval Germany: An encyclopedia) has a few interesting facts.

"Comprising 153 panels, painted in a limited palette of green, red, gray, white, and black, the ceiling appears to have been polychromed prior to installation. Strong stylistic and iconographic affinities have been noted between the ceiling and manuscript illumination of the twelfth century, suggesting that the artists came from the scriptorium at Chur."

Also: "The number of panels reflects the 153 fish drawn by Peter in the miraculous draught described in John 21:11. The ceiling thus functions as a vision in which Christian time and space are 'mapped' out."
posted by Houstonian at 7:43 AM on March 19, 2011


"I will give you bongs, hookahs, and specialty cocktails!" "Nah, I'm cool with my PBR."
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:51 AM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Would you care for a mint? Oh, I couldn't possibly. But, it is only a wafer thin mint.

also shows what's at the bottom of the slippery slope begun by letting people put their elbows on the table.
posted by jfuller at 10:01 AM on March 19, 2011


This is such an amazing discussion!
posted by cmp4Meta at 12:33 PM on March 19, 2011


Amazing ha ha or amazing peculiar?
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:01 PM on March 19, 2011


Didn't mean to hijack. I'm sorry. The depiction I linked to is considered to be the oldest representation of the Trinity in Western Europe. What is interesting is that the Holy Spirit is very clearly depicted as a male. Feminist theologian Sarah Coakley notes this should be understood as a historical rebuke to the notion that the Christian God is inherently masculine.
posted by jefficator at 6:14 PM on March 19, 2011


I mean to say depicted as female.
posted by jefficator at 3:29 PM on March 21, 2011


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