Saturday, 20 June 2015

Original or copy?

The Musée Ochier in Cluny has the great portal of Cluny III on display, or what is left of it. And that is not much, considering that the whole portal was blown up in 1810.

Grand portail Cluny III - Musée Ochier Cluny
One of the best preserved pieces is the eagle, symbol of Saint John the Evangelist. There is nothing on the wall, at least as far as I recall, which points to the fact that this eagle might be a copy, and hence I have always believed that this eagle once was physically part of the narthex of Cluny III.

Musé Ochier - Cluny
Until one day I encountered a very similar eagle in the Louvre in Paris, albeit with tiny differences. The stone in the louvre looks more weathered, and the top bit of the broken off part at the underside of the eagle shows a V-shaped scratch which has a slightly different shape from the one in Cluny.

Louvre - Paris
It seemed that Cluny's eagle is a copy, whilst the Louvre houses the original. Wikipedia confirms this, and contains a reference to the inventory of the Louvre. The original of a Saint Peter, high on the left hand side of the portal, can be found in the USA.

Brochure Saint-Germain-des-Prés
When in Paris recently, we visited the church Saint-Germain-des-Prés for the second time. This time I found a brochure there, saying that the capitals in the nave were copies, whilst those in the choir were still original. The choir is not accessible for visitors, and the distance between transept and the capitals is too big to take free hand pictures, even with flash and fast film setting.

Choir - Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Our visit to Paris coincided with the visit to Paris of an Australian Facebook friend from a closed photo group, whom we could finally meet in the flesh. The lady in question takes very nice pictures indeed, hence I popped the question: would she mind trying to photograph the capitals? This was not met with deaf ears, and a month later, after she had returned to Australia, I received a set of photographs.

Capital - choir of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (picture courtesy of B. Jacobs - Australia)
And since I love to share things with others who might be interested I sent a set to Bourgogne Romane, together with another series taken during my visit to the Musée de Cluny in Paris.
Quickly I received a mail concerning those batches of photos: at least one of the "original" capitals in the choir appeared to be a copy of a real original I had shot in the Musée de Cluny!

The same capital - Musée de Cluny
From which the conclusion may be drawn that not all museum captions are necessarily complete, and also that the brochures one find in churches not necessarily are to be taken for gospel. However, gospel can be found elsewhere in most churches.

Click here for the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

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