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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Tarrant Crawford, Dorset (†Salisbury [Sarum]) Early C.14

The Three Living & The Three Dead

Three Living & Three Dead, Tarrant Crawford

They are very ghostly now, but these figures were painted with great skill, and the skeletal structure shows a very well-informed understanding of anatomy particularly evident in the knees and pelvic girdle of the central figure. The ragged draperies hanging from them are an uncommon detail, and contrast well with the rich clothing of the Three Living, now shown here at the left below.

Three Living, Tarrant Crawford

The Three Living include a crowned queen and a king again, although the central figure is virtually invisible. The king, at the right, has a hawk on his wrist, and the queen wrings her hands, presumably in horror.

As with the Three Dead, the subjects overlap the elaborate painted border at the lower edge, and it is hard to account for this, unless these paintings were ‘forced’ to fit into a predetermined space too small for them, perhaps one set up by an apprentice hand for the master to complete later. The ‘calamitous’ 14th century is full of anomalies like this. The painted borders, edged in red ochre, are a feature of most of the other paintings, which include an Annunciation and a now rather obscure but very extensive Life of St Margaret, on here soon.

Website for St Mary the Virgin, Tarrant Crawford

† in page heading = Diocese