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mural painting

mural painting. Painted decoration applied to an exterior or interior wall-surface. Known in the Ancient World, mural decorations featuring architectural devices, landscapes, and figures, etc. were common in Roman houses, and several spectacular examples have survived from, e.g. Pompeii. Wall-paintings enlivened medieval churches, and many fragments survive, notably of Dooms, e.g. in England. Murals were enthusiastically revived in C19 throughout the West, notably in didactic and historical painting closely associated with Revivalist architectural movements (e.g. the Glyptothek, Munich, and the Palace of Westminster, London). For much mural painting the technique of fresco was employed, but in France marouflage was commonly used. In England, as the progress of the Gothic Revival demanded more and more historical research and scholarly application, whole interiors were coloured (e.g. Holy Innocents, Highnam, Glos. (1850–71), by Thomas Gambier Parry (1816–88), carried out in ‘spirit fresco’, and St John the Baptist, Tue Brook, Liverpool (1868–71), by Bodley, superbly restored by Dykes Bower in the 1970s). A revival of mural painting reached its apogee in 1890–1914, when the Arts-and-Crafts insistence on a complete integration of art, craftsmanship, and architecture found a fertile climate during the years before the 1914–18 war and the dogmas of the Bauhaus and International Modernism put paid to it. In the late 1920s there was a new trend towards making art public and accessible as developments in ‘Modern’ art tended to become more and more introspective and exclusive. Didactic murals were a feature of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the Stalinist Soviet Union, and attempts were made to promote similar work elsewhere. Interior murals for private houses were occasionally produced (e.g. the dining-room at Plas Newydd, Gwynedd, Wales (1937), by Rex Whistler (1905–44) ), and some artists, e.g. Stanley Spencer (1891–1959), painted oil-based murals (1927–32) in the Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, Hants., dealing with war. Post-Festival-of-Britain murals were, on the whole, feeble, but political and social issues were unsubtly depicted in such works as The Battle of Cable Street, St George's Town Hall, Tower Hamlets, London (1978–83), and (although studiously avoided by most) sectarian gable-end murals in Belfast and Londonderry continued to express powerful hatreds and mark tribal/religious boundaries in C21. However, such murals were executed in oil paint on brick or plaster-covered walls. In Central Europe especially, sgraffito was (and is) used for murals.


Jane Turner (1996)

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