Discovering the frescos in Plaincourault chapel

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Saint Eloi - © / CC-BY-NC-SA Saint Eloi - © / CC-BY-NC-SA
Plaincourault chapel Chapel


The frescos were made between the 12th and the 17th century. Since the 13th c., painters used cobalt oxide and copper oxide to get blue and green colour. Before that, they especially used ochre, and that was all... Here, colours are still very bright and fresh!

A mushroom as a paradise

What’s the oldest painting here? The one representing the Garden of Eden: the only representation in the world which shows the Knowledge Tree as a giant mushroom!

Her Majesty...

Next, a Virgin Mary in majesty. In majesty? Yes, it means that the painter represented her: with baby Jesus in her arms; surrounded by an almond-shape (mandorle in French), sat on her throne.

Eyes and feet

Next, we have a Crucifixion (12th c.): the painter was inspired by paintings from the 9th or 10th c. How do we know that? Because of the shape of the cross (the arms end by crosses with a T shape): typical of the 10th century! After, artists gave up with that.

Another clue: we see a rather strange representation of Jesus on his cross! Yeah, he’s still alive (he has his eyes open), he has no wounds yet and his feet are spread out, not superposed as we usually can see them.

Eloi, give me my hoof back!

On the other side, come on: we have a scene from the miracle of saint Eloi (14th c.). A miracle? Yes, he removed a hoof on a horse, in order to shoe it, then he put it back!

Eloi wears a halo, a hammer in his hand and the hoof in the other one. A man hold the horse’s leg. Two amazed men stand behind the saint... Look at their giant hands, compare to their faces! It was a kind of trick, to give a little perspective!

We also can see traces of reworking next to one of a man’s face: the reworking is a part of a painting which was covered up, to hide some details. Most of the time, we can only see the reworking with X-rays because of the several coats of painting... but here, we can easily see it!

A wolf and a fox

Next, we have a scene from the famous medieval novel, the Roman de Renart (end of the 13th c.). Renart play fiddle. Then, a dog up on his legs (maybe Roenel, the mastiff), Chantecler the rooster, a peacock. On the apse’s dome, we notice a Christ flanked by the 4 Evangelists’ animals.

And also!