Scholars study 500-year-old canopy for baptismal font in English church

interior of St. Peter Mancroft Church

Image: College of Architecture

A rare piece of medieval church furniture—a large five-centuries-old canopy installed over a baptismal font in eastern England—is the subject of a new, collaborative research initiative co-organized by Zachary Stewart, assistant professor, Department of Architecture, College of Architecture.

“The project will provide a vivid snapshot of everyday religious culture in Europe before and after the Protestant Reformation and map out a collaborative approach, with a diverse set of digital tools, to the systematic study of works of art and architecture that have existed for centuries,” said Stewart, a faculty fellow of the Texas A&M Center for Heritage Conservation, a project partner.

Originally covered with intricately carved sculpture and richly painted decoration, the canopy, in St. Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich, has been subjected to repeated modification and restoration since it was first built between 1510 and 1530.

In the research project, scholars will create 3-D models of the canopy with photogrammetry and laser scanning, identify its material components using scientific analysis, and investigate the historical, spatial, and social contexts of the canopy from the sixteenth century to the present day.

Project scholars from Texas A&M include Stewart, Brent Fortenberry, assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, and Benjamin Baaske, a doctoral student. The research team includes approximately 12 additional scholars based at institutions throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

The project has received funding from the Henry Moore Foundation, the International Center of Medieval Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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