Paintings of the altar canopy of Hopperstad

Paintings of the altar canopy of Hopperstad

            These paintings are in the altar canopy of the Stavkirke of Hopperstad. Before to tell about them, it is necessary to know what is a stavkirke and what is an altar canopy, but not overextending.
  A Stavkirke is a church characterized by an internal structure of wooden columns, organized more or less like a basilica, with an outer structure dominated by shingles. Stavkirke is a Norwegian word used to name the Christians medieval wooden churches in Northern Europe, but are confined almost exclusively to Norway.
  An altar canopy (baldaquin) is a canopy-like structure, usually over four elements of support, to cover an altar or a tomb. They were all very common in the Middle Ages, although there are few because many were made of wood and stone and were usually dismantled at a later date. The lower image shows the Hopperstad Stavkirke and its altar canopy.

            These paintings correspond to the gothic art, since the Nordic peoples gradually imported the Western culture. These paintings recreate scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. There is not much information about these paintings, but by how they look, stand out for its colors, that, although are plain, seem vivid.

            About the antiquity of these paintings you must go back to the age of this Stavkirke. The church dates from the IX and X centuries Apparently, the church remained in its original form until the XVII century. Then the nave was lengthened westward, and a bell tower was built in the new part. The enlargement also occurred on the east, south, and especially in the north. These works were completed by the XVIII century. There is not image of the interior of the church at this time. As a curiosity, the church is classified in the Type B Stavkirke: Church with central room with high ceiling, and in this category, it belongs to the Kaupanger group.

            In conclusion, these paintings are part of the few remaining pictorial remnants of the Old Norse painting, even if its iconography is imported of the Gothic painting, it still remains being something unique and interesting because it is the painting that decorated the Norwegian stavkirke.
    These paintings, as well as own Stavkirke of Hopperstad, are in Vikøyri, municipality of Vik, province of Sogn og Fjordane, in Norway.

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