Brasses, Sepulchral

Brasses, Sepulchral

are monumental plates of brass or the mixed metal anciently called latten, inlaid on large slabs of stone, which usually form part of the pavement of the church, and representing in their outline, or by the lines engraved upon them, the figure of the deceased. In many instances, in place of a figure there is found an ornamented or foliated cross, with sacred emblems or other devices. The fashion of representing on tombs the effigy of the deceased, graven on a plate of brass, appears to have been adopted about the middle of the 13th century. This was embedded in melted pitch, and firmly fastened down by rivets leaded into a slab, usually in England of the material known as Forest marble, or else Sussex or Purbeck marble. These memorials, where circumstances permitted, were often elevated upon altar- tombs, but more commonly they are found on slabs, which form part of the pavement of churches; and it is not improbable that this kind of memorial was generally adopted, from the circumstance that the area of the church, and especially the choir, was not thereby encumbered, as was the case when effigies in relief were introduced.

The Sepulchral Brass, in its original and perfect state, was a work rich and beautiful in decoration. It is, by careful examination, sufficiently evident that the incised lines were filled up with some black resinous substance; the armorial decorations, and, in elaborate :specimens, the whole field or background, which was cut out by the chisel or scraper, were filled up with mas-tic or coarse enamel of various colors, so as to set off the elegant tracery of tabernacle work, which forms the principal feature of ornament.

The earliest specimen of a brass that has been noticed in England is that at Stoke Dabernon, Surrey, apparently the memorial of Sir John d'Aubernoun, who died in 1277. This exhibits traces of color. Next to this occur the brasses of Sir Roger de Trumpington, at Trumpington, Cambridgeshire; he died in 1289, but no traces of color exist. In speaking of these as the two earliest known examples, it should be added that Jocelyn, bishop of Wells. who died in 1247, is recorded to have had a brass on his tomb; and on that of bishop Bingham, who died the same year, the matrix or incision of the stone in which the brass was laid still exists.

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