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Medieval Paintings Discovered Near Grenoble

Uncovered mural in VifAn article by Harry Bellet (Les miraculeuses peintures murales de l'église de Vif, March 13) in Le Monde relates an interesting discovery (my translation and link added):

The parishioners of the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, in the little village of Vif, in the Isère, about 15 km south of Grenoble, had a nice surprise on February 8. Testing on the walls has revealed that paintings, covering almost the entire church, were hidden under five layers of white paint accumulated over the course of centuries.

"These are not, technically speaking, frescos," specifies Alain de Montjoye, archeologist, medievalist, and curator of the patrimony of the Isère. "It would be better to speak of mural paintings. At the moment, we have only a reduced view: the restorers have made tests and uncovered windows at more than a hundred points, which confirm that the north and south nave walls, as well as the upper wall in front of the choir were painted, if not by the same artist at least by the same workshop."

Between 300 and 500 square meters were apparently decorated. "This would appear to be a homogeneous ensemble, not revised or modified," explains Alain de Montjoye. "We are surely faced with the extremely rare case of a complete iconographic program."
There are some geometric patterns visible, as well as fragments of multi-character scene and, on the north wall, what may be a resurrection scene. The church was built in the 12th century and modified over the next two centuries. Without any precise dating completed yet, the paintings are thought to be from the late 14th century. An article by Anne-Marie Romero (Trésor inestimable découvert à... Vif, March 8) in Le Figaro has some other information. There are more pictures in this .PDF file from the village of Vif -- a St. Michael and another figure, possibly also an angel -- and a nice report with video on the evening news from TF1.

Two years ago, I relayed the reports of the foundation of a new museum in Vif, dedicated to Jean-François Champollion, the French pioneer of Egyptology, in the house where he lived for many years. As it turns out, I have actually been in Vif before, because we have dear family friends who live not far from there. I will make sure to go again the next time we visit them.

1 comment:

Mark Barry said...

amazing, beautiful discovery and these dear friends like to picnic, this could be a fun trip...