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The monumental paintings of the eleventh to the eighteenth century, Ariege

Première de couverture "Les peintures monumentales du XIe au XVIIIe siècle, Ariège"

Sylvie Decottignies

Coll. Images du Patrimoine n°231

Accord Edition

Toulouse

2004

ISSN 0299-1020

ISBN 2-908695-47-2

Try to imagine the scene: Worshippers in the Middle Ages, peering through the half light, trying to make out the multi-coloured paintings adorning the vaulting and walls of their churches - useful both to their acts of devotion and as an illustration accompanying the words of the preacher. These paintings evolved during the course of church history. Sometimes one painting was painted over an older one. Styles were also subject to change.

Modern-day attitudes are very different. We are more demanding in terms of interior aesthetics, for example, we expect use to be made of modern lighting techniques; we are more concerned with finding out the truth of what the past was like, expecting restorers to put advances in science to practical use.

This, the first publication in the 'Images du Patrimoine' collection to deal with wall and ceiling paintings, adopts two different standpoints - that of a historian and that of a photographer - to introduce the reader to a part of the heritage of the Ariège that they have methodically studied. This is a publication that sometimes takes a broad overview of entire artistic compositions (the Calvary chapel in Castillon-en-Couseran), and sometimes adopts a close-up approach – for example, fragments of paintings dealt with in exhaustive detail (the caryatid at the château de Paillès). It pushes back the boundaries of what was unseen and catalogues everything we know about the département’s wall and ceiling paintings, both religious or secular in character, dating from the 11th to the 19th centuries.

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