Mystery surrounds 17th century mural found in grade II listed building in Ipswich

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Mystery surrounds a centuries old mural discovered at a refurbished grade II listed building in Ipswich.

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The fascinating artwork was unearthed at Alexander House, in Fore Street, after the property was taken over by Sapphire Property Management.

Since then staff have been trying to find out more about the mural, and what they should be doing to keep it safe for future generations.

The artwork, which is believed to have been painted straight onto plaster, features a figure of a woman looking at a snake she is holding in her left hand.

The work has now been stored in a glass case mounted on the wall inside the building, which had been converted into luxury flats.

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Helen Connelly, Business Development Manager at Sapphire, said: “We have some new residents who have moved in recently and there is a real buzz about the painting.

“The building itself was built around 1644 or 1645 but we didn’t know whether the mural dated back to when it was first built.”

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However, members of the Ipswich Society have recently been able to shed some light on who is pictured in the mural, and when it may have been painted.

Robin Gaylard, an artist and editor of the society’s newsletter, said: “The style and subject, presumably Cleopatra bitten by the asp, is Renaissance, 14th to 17th century, so the presumed date of the house, 1644, matches.

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“Cleopatra, although known as an Egyptian queen, was from a Greek family.

“At her death she was probably poisoned, but one should never get in the way of a good legend.

“The painting, presumably applied to the plaster wall, is quite accomplished in style, anatomy and use of light and shade.

“The modelling of the head - hair, face earrings, necklace - the foreshortening of the limbs and drapery is quite sophisticated.”

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The society advised that the works should be investigated for archeological significance.

Mrs Connelly said it was exciting to hear what had been discovered.

“We were wondering who the woman in the painting was and her significance,” she said.

“It is really exciting to hear who it is.

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Helen Connelly with the mural. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“We are looking forward to finding out a little bit more about the mural and would love to find out who painted it.”