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MARTYRDOM OF ST EUSTACE, HIS WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN,
FROM A FRES60 IN THE NORTH AISLE OF THE CHOIR OF CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL
dently does not represent a Roman soldier.
hunting horn of white metal (perhaps of silver) is clearly to be discerned hanging from his girdle. The figure is therefore more like that of Hubert than that of Eustace.
Nevertheless, at the apex of the fresco the martyrdom of St. Eustace is very graphically shewn. Not only is the brazen bull very prominent, but, in the drawing made, more than fifty years ago, by Mr. George Austin, senior, we observe the figures of St. Eustace and his wife and their two children within the brazen bull. Two attendants with ladles are pouring boiling oil upon the wife and on one of the children. Both Eustace and his wife are held in position by men with huge forks. Beneath the brazen ox a fire is burning, the flames of which are being fed with fresh logs by one attendant, while another fans the flames with wind blown from bellows exactly like the implement still in use for that purpose. The Emperor is depicted as sitting on a throne, watching the martyrdom. A jester, or court fool, is twisting himself between the feet of the Emperor to give, with his finger, a poke in the back to the bellows-blower. This incident and the figure of a monkey in the foreground were made out also by Dr. Sheppard and Mr. Neale when they examined the fresco in 1879.
Above, in the apex of the fresco, we see angels carrying into heaven (in a sheet) the four souls of the martyrs. Above the figures of the souls, we see as an emblem of the Resurrection a Phoenix rising from flames. It is therefore quite certain that the artist intended to depict the Legend of St. Eustace, not that of St. Hubert. His knowledge of the special points of distinction between the two legends was evidently small, if any.
Throughout the length of the obliterated fresco traces of a swollen river, or stream of water, are still clearly seen. This feature belongs solely to the Legend of St. Eustace, which represents that his wife was carried off by pirates, and that when upon a journey with his two sons he had to cross a swollen river, carrying over a child to one bank while leaving the other alone upon the opposite bank. When in midstream, on his return to fetch the second child, he
sees both carried off by wild beasts ; -a wolf seizes one, and a lion the other. The children however are, in some way, rescued; and the wife survives to meet Eustace and her sons about fifteen years later. When the four are happily reunited the Emperor Hadrian requires them to offer incense on the altar of some heathen deity. Their refusal to comply causes them to be condemned to death in the ox-shaped brazen cauldron.
On the obliterated fresco we can still discern the kneeling figure of St. Eustace at A. The white hose on the legs of the kneeling figure are clearly seen-the face is turned to the east, and in our illustration it cannot be discerned. His two children are beside him, one on either hand. His wife also is with them. But these figures are not easily traced. On a horizontal line through the letter G we see the figure of Eustace standing, apparently in midstream. On his right hand are traces of a small ship of ancient form. The incidents of wild beasts carrying off the children were probably depicted one on the right and the other on the left of Eustace's figure in midstream, but the details cannot now be deciphered.
The arched space, upon which the fresco was painted, is round-headed, and was prepared by Prior Ernulf, between A.D. 1100 and 1135, for a window. When William of Sens
rebuilt the choir in A.D. 1177 he left standing the outer walls which Ernulf had built; but in order that their height might accord with that of his own work, he raised Ernulf's round arches to higher elevations. In our illustration of this obliterated fresco, we can see, a little lower than the point marked D, and somewhat towards the right hand thereof, the original western springing of the arch as erected by Ernulf. William of Sens raised it to a point just below that marked E-that is to say, he raised Ernulf's Norman arch through a vertical height as great as the distance between the points marked D and E. The date of this fresco cannot be accurately fixed, but I think we may well attribute it to a period circa 1450 to 1480. The date 1475 has been assigned to it with some degree of probability in Mr. G. Smith's Chronological History of Canterbury Cathedral, p. 188.