Mont Orgueil wall painting
David Park, Emily Howe and Sharon Cather (Coutauld Institute of Art )
Jersey Heritage Trust Heritage Magazine (2005)
Traces of a painting were first discovered in 1997 when an archaeological investigation of Mont Orgueil’s Great Hall began. The most significant area of the image was on the soffit of a partially unblocked window at the south end of the west wall. In 2004 further work was undertaken to unblock this window and revealed an unusual decorative painting of large, red flowers with rounded petals and a finely drawn black design. The remains of this painting, though slight, are of exceptional interest because they appear to be the only medieval paintings so far discovered in a purely secular context in the Channel Islands. It is also extremely rare for medieval paintings to survive in a royal castle.
The painting was created using an unusual technique and a decorative design that appears to have no close parallels anywhere. Despite the numerous small cracks and repairs, it was immediately obvious that the red flower painting was of a notable quality and had certainly been painted with luxury materials. The pinkish red used was easily identifiable as vermillion, which was an expensive, luxury material to use. The relationship between the floral design and the free- flowing black linear design below it was less obvious. Originally, the red flower was thought to be late 15th century but the black design probably from an earlier period. However, the exuberant black lines do appear to provide a context for positioning the blooms in a way that is similar to some designs found in 18th century textiles and wallpaper.
Want more medieval? Take a look at our digital magazine – The Medievalverse – Click here to see our latest issues