Bessa, P. (2008). Mural painting from the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Age in northern Portugal

This PhD dissertation provides a study of late Medieval and early Modern wallpaintings in northern Portugal. In the first chapter, I consider the state of the art of the study of late Medieval and early Modern Portuguese wall-paintings before the beginning of my own research project. In northern Portugal the majority of wall-paintings are located in parish churches. In these churches abbots or, more rarely, patrons were responsible for commissioning wall-paintings in the chancels, while the parishioners should command murals in the nave. Therefore, in the second chapter, I developed a research methodology in order to clarify who commanded wall-painting programmes in parish church chancels. I also make some comments on financial resources available to parish church abbots. Finally, I consider some cases of commissioners of mural painting. Extremely large giornate indicate that although extensive programmes were commissioned, it seems that they were to be made in the shortest possible time, therefore conditioning the sophistication of the end result. In the third chapter I discuss possible reasons that might explain this practice. The modus faciendi – and taste – of artists and wall-painting teams is the subject of the fourth chapter. Finally, in the fifth chapter I provide an analysis of themes of northern Portuguese wall-paintings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Attention is also given to the possible functions of the image in wall-paintings.




Paula Bessa