Every picture tells a story – on how to read art. Part 6.

The Bayeux Tapestry in Bayeux, France, is not a tapestry at all but a cloth with woollen embroidery.  It is, in Europe, perhaps the epitome of the story-picture of the Dark- and Middle Ages and tells the story of William of Normandy’s invasion of Saxon England in 1066, and of Harold’s failed attempt to keep the crown.

Originally it was thought to have been made by Norman ladies for Queen Mathilde (wife of William the Conqueror), but it has since been found that it was in fact commissioned by one Count Odo, a relative of William’s, and made in England.

The Bayeux Tapestry is the first comic strip.  It is in the form of a long freize which goes round the walls and it is “read” from left to right. A bare-bones commentary is provided in Latin top and bottom.  The figures are in the same jerky, awkward style of Illuminations and frescoes of the Dark Ages.  The upper and lower borders are decorated with various animals, fallen figures and weapons or the insignia of the nobles involved in the battle.  It is easy enough to read, providing you know more-or-less what happened …. And even if you don’t, the figures and scenes are quite clear – preparing for battle, building ships, arrival on land, battle scenes, death, crowning of a new king.

This picture is near the start of the tapestry and shows William of Normandy and his people getting in to his ships en route for the invasion.  Look closely at the amusing details – somebody drinking in the tavern to the left, a man carrying his dog through the water …

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites.  Her sketches are on her web site http://turquoisemoon.co.uk .  Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  Her books are available as e-books on this site:-

https://payhip.com/b/tEva            “A Call from France”

https://payhip.com/b/OTiQ          “French Sand”

https://payhip.com/b/BLkF         ”The Man with Green Fingers”

https://payhip.com/b/1Ghq        “Saying Nothing”

They are also available on Amazon & Kindle, or can be ordered as paperbacks from most leading book stores and libraries.

Posted on 15/10/2012 by Catherine
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