Fine Art Friday – Painted Chapel Ceiling

A picture of death and the Last Judgement

The painted wooden ceiling of St. Mary’s Church of Grandtully was another of the serendipitous gifts of our trip.  This small ancient church, hidden on a private farm a few miles from our home base, was endowed in 1533.  Its  glory is its decorated ceiling which features this scene of death and the last judgment.  This church was in none of the guide books I had read.

There is one sign marking this church.  After driving on a narrow – even by Scottish standards – farm lane, walking behind a house and barn, you arrive at this little building surrounded by a rock wall.  A motion-sensor turns the light on when you enter.  The floor is primitive, there are no seats, you only look up and …wonder.

The building was used as a byre for hundreds of years.  A byre, I was told by a Scottish woman, is the home for cows.  Oh, I replied, we call that a barn.  With a pitying look, she clarified, A barn is a place to store hay, a byre is a place where cows live .  Aha.  I see.  The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes ran through my mind as I stood in this former byre.

There were panels for different virtues: this is Humility.

The Four Evangelists

“Matthew is portrayed in several ways.  He is shown with a cherub, in human likeness, where he is pictured as recording the human ancestry of Christ.  He appears with a winged man in reference to his detailed account of the Incarnation of Christ.”


“In his [Mark’s] character of Evangelist and secretary to St. Peter, he is given a pen and the book of his Gospel.”


“His most frequent attributes are the winged ox, presumably because in his Gospel he emphasizes the priesthood of Christ, and the ox is a symbol of sacrifice;”


“His principal attributes are the eagle, symbol of the highest inspirations, and the book.”

All the quotes are from the book Signs & Symbols in Christian Art by George Ferguson.  I wish that we had taken small book packed with information with us on the trip.  If you are interested in Christian art, this book from Oxford University Press is a great help. 

Please click on the pictures to see more detail.


2 thoughts on “Fine Art Friday – Painted Chapel Ceiling

  1. Excellent FAF selection….. I think I would enjoy that book as I have one my mother owns about symbols in art.  It’s just not specifically Christian.  There must be a dozen published over the years.  What year is yours?

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