Saturday, 28 December 2013

Decorations (2)

Before I became deeply affected by Romanesque architecture, I hardly knew anything about the subject.

That only came with time. Hence I was slightly unpleasantly surprised when somebody, looking at my pictures of the church in Chissey-lès-Mâcon, said : "Ah, you managed to find the modillons as well!". I did not even have the foggiest what a modillon could haven been! Since that time I have learned a few things. A modillon is a short corbel, supporting a roof edge or cornice.

Whatever was so special about those corbels remained a mystery to me, until I realised that corbels decorated with a relief are not present on every church. I have experienced that the more you look for them, the more you find. And not only at roof levels where you can spot them with the naked eye; they can also be found at the roof edges of relatively high bell towers, where one can hardly distinguish them.

It still happens from time to time, that whilst processing my pictures I blow up the top of a bell tower, indeed finding some interesting details which I had not spotted whilst taking the picture.
And the more churches one investigates this way, the more one starts to appreciate the sometimes bizarre details one finds. By now I have an impressive collection of men sticking out their tongues, men hanging upside down, modillons with a double head, a cow's head, a dog's head, hands in all sizes and shapes, geometric patterns, etc. etc.

This blog does not go into the deeper meaning behind those depictions. I am sure there is one, but I simply lack the knowledge to say something sensible about it. Despite this, I still like to go into the Brionnais, because many a church in that area has sufficient nice or funny or gruesome modillons to fill several films of 36 exposures.
All pictures except one were taken in Châteauneuf; the only reason behind it is the fact that it was the first series (but certainly not the only one!) in my collection giving me more than sufficient photographs for this blog.

The Brionnais is less than an hour's drive from La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Decorations (1)

In many Romanesque churches one finds, between the end of a column or pilaster and the beginning of the arch an impost, a usually trapezoidal ridge protruding from the face of the column or pilaster. One could call an impost a decoration, albeit not a very exuberant one. I think that it also served as a support for the centring, the wood construction carrying the stone arch as long as it is not finished and hence self-supporting.

Centring (Wikipedia)

The first time I stumbled upon a decorated impost was in the Saint-Pierre in Brancion. Apart from the frescoes this is one of the very few decorations in the church. What exactly is shown in this relief is not very clear to me; to me it resembles a relief of two fighting dragons, battling head to head.

Saint-Pierre - Brancion

But I found also something interesting in the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption in Champlecy. This is clearly shown on the picture below. On the right hand side of the picture there is a "normal" impost, which you can find in almost every church. The left hand side one however, has been decorated with a sculptured cylinder attached to the slanting side of the trapezium.

Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption - Champlecy

Something similar I encountered in the Saint-Nizier in Baron. The first picture shows an impost as described above, but here the cylinder has been intrinsically decorated as well; the second one shows an impost decorated with a row of cylinders in a billette pattern.

Saint-Nizier - Baron
Saint-Nizier - Baron

Finally, in the Saint-Pantaléon in Trambly I found an impost decorated with a pattern consisting of a row of circles, similar to a pattern with oves. On top of that the slanting side of the trapezium has been replaced by a rounded rectangle. Besides, (see 2nd picture) the face of the rectangle perpendicular to the longer side shows a curl, suggesting a stone "scroll".

Saint-Pantaléon - Trambly
Saint-Pantaléon - Trambly

I had never imagined that something at first sight looking so relatively simple as an impost would lead to such an extensive blog!
For the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle, click here.