Peterborough Cathedral Ceiling Reproduced

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petersborough cathedral ceilingWilliam Strickland (1787-1854), Strickland’s Lithographic Drawing of the Ancient Painted Ceiling in the Nave of Peterborough Cathedral. Together with descriptive letterpress (Peterborough: published by the author, W. Strickland; London: George Bell; Cambridge: E. Meadows [1849]). 12 pages and a folded color plate. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2015- in process.
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Peterborough Cathedral ceiling

After a few pages of introductory text, this book consists of a single folded plate composed of 7 panels stretching slightly over 6 feet in length. The chromolithographic panorama reproduces the painted wood ceiling in the nave of Peterborough Cathedral, which dates from around 1230.

“The examples of painted woodwork of the Norman period are extremely uncommon, and it is doubtful whether any instances have come down to us, with the exception of the roof of the nave and transepts of Peterborough Cathedral. These roofs are flat and highly coloured, that over the south transept being plainer and somewhat earlier than that over the nave. On the latter are numerous figures within lozenge-shaped medallions of the Agnus Dei, various saints, and grotesque and allegorical figures.” —List of Buildings Having Mural Decorations by C.E. Keyser.

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The plate is signed by the lithographers, Day & Son, and by the painter/lithographer John Sleigh (active 1819-1881, sometimes written John Sliegh). The architect and watercolorist William Strickland is recorded as working in London in 1839. It is conceivable that such a complex project might have taken ten years to complete; copying the ceiling, transferring the designs to multiple lithographic stones, and printing the plates. The color registration alone is an astonishing tour de force. Princeton is now holds only one of five copies in this country.

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