mardi 18 décembre 2012

Romanesque Bestiaries in Poitou-Charentes: Symbols Explained

                         A devouring monster, Church of Saint-Pierre at Aulnay-de-Saintonge.

                                The famous capital with elephants, Aulnay-de-Saintonge.

Two men fighting a dragon, capital at Aulnay-de-Saintonge.

                                       The Church of Saint-Pierre, Aulnay-de-Saintonge.

How can one choose a favourite from the bouquet of Poitevin churches? Perhaps Charroux, of which all that survives is an extraordinary lantern-tower on eight pillars, and arches springing from capitals of luxuriant foliage, called the Charlemagne Tower. Or perhaps Airvault, where the ribbed and pointed vaults of the Angevin Style are attached to an older Romanesque structure. Or Saint-Gilles of Argenton-Château, or Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes. Or some other church, its façade adorned with delicately carved arches.
The ancient church of Saint-Pierre of Chauvigny, between Poitiers and Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, hangs from the strong walls of a ruined fortress. Several of the distinctive characteristics of the local Romanesque Style are brought together here, with its barrel-vaulted central nave, lit by large windows in the façade, and carried on rib-vaulted side-aisles, of almost equal height. The capitals, signed by a certain Godfridus, show an imaginary bestiary that perhaps derives from images brought back by the Crusaders, and the soft limestone carries energetic reliefs of the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi and the Weighing of Souls at the Last Judgement. Around the choir, dragons, a sphinx and birds of prey all plunge the pilgrim into an apocalyptic world. This monster devouring a tiny naked figure creates a violent impression that was reinforced by the colours that were originally applied to the stone. Not far away, on the borders of Poitou and Saintonge, the Church of.....Read more here:

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