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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Cold Overton, Leicestershire (†Leicester) C.13

The Gathering of the Apostles for the Funeral of the Virgin(?)

Gathering of the Apostles for the funeral of the Virgin, Cold Overton

The church was built in around 1230, and seems to have been painted shortly after larger windows were inserted towards the end of the 13th century. A few of these paintings survive, and one of St Catherine is already on this site. The identification of the subject is EW Tristram’s, and if he is right, this is a very rare survival indeed.

The brief discussion on the page for this subject at Broughton, where there are also wall paintings of scenes (also very fragmentary, alas) from the end of the Virgin’s life will give some background detail about the circumstances of this apocryphal story about her death.

There seems to be a full complement of Apostles here, six on either side and facing each other in attitudes of prayer. I cannot identify any individuals, and the appearance of what might be taken for a gold diadem on one of the figures in the left-hand group is simply damage where flaking plaster has allowed an older, more yellowed layer to show through. The Apostles are all barefoot and some carry objects that are probably meant to be books.

It is impossible to disagree with Tristram that ‘the workmanship is unskilled’¹ here, but reductive as this sounds, it should not be allowed to detract from the fact that (if his identification is correct) this is a vanishingly rare survival of the subject.

¹ Tristram II, p.532