WITH the opening of the Romanesque period, wall- painting for the first time comes into consideration as a branch of English art.
Painting on piaster was the characteristic method of decoration for Romanesque churches on the Continent, and it was only natural that it should be taken up in England also. The massive Norman type of architecture, with its small windows, left large expanses of wall and vaulting which would be bare and unsightly unless covered with paintings: moreover, these served a didactic as well as decorative purpose.
It is not only in great cathedrals such as Canterbury that relics of twelfth-century painting are found, but in the parish churches of remote country villages, so that they must no doubt once have been very numerous; many have perished in the course of the centuries, and some may still lie hidden under the whitewash of the Puritans.
English wall-paintings are not true frescoes, that is to say they are not painted, like the Italian frescoes, on fresh plaster before it has dried. That technique was sometimes used in France in medieval times, but in England tempera-painting was preferred. In some cases the paint was even applied directly to the wall itself, without any plaster surface between. Mr. E. W. Tristram considers that 'in earlier and cruder work the colours may have been mixed with slaked lime and put on the wet walls, a process analogous to fresco; but that later and better work was on a dry plastered wall in a medium which was probably size, or perhaps in some cases egg or skimmed milk'.1
By the tempera processes the colours do not sink in so____________________