Anne-Orange POILPRE

Le portail roman et ses images sculptées : pierre angulaire de l’histoire de l’art médiéval européen

‘Romanesque portal’: the term itself stands as an evocative phrase that encompasses all the major artistic transformations of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It evokes the flourishing of monumental sculpture at the threshold of the church and the threshold whose architecture also grew to unprecedented importance and which came to serve as decoration outside of the cultic space inside. At the heart of scholarly discussion on Romanesque art since the end of the nineteenth century, the question of the portal – in all its facets – has been a touchstone for theories regarding the place of sculpture in architectural spaces, the role of artistic innovation, and the renewal of iconographic language. These are, in the end, questions about the very definition and bounds of Romanesque art, questions that have dominated the field’s historiography. This article considers the iconographic and symbolic interpretation of portals in order to understand how the Romanesque portal has become the object of particular scholarly attention. The matter of monumental sculpture of course is a centerpiece in this discussion. Studies by Emile Mâle privileged the iconographic content of portal sculpture, while Marcel Durliat privileged the idea of the Romanesque portal as an architectural ensemble, semantically coherent. That particular understanding has evolved in more recent research toward a consideration of ideological aspects, at the expense of aspects of ecclesiastical geography conceived around the pilgrimage routes.


Le portail roman Un nouveau cadre architectural pour la sculpture

Scholars have paid scant attention to the structural history of the Romanesque portal. Yet it is crucial to an understanding of the history of the sculpture. In fact, it was the formulation of new approaches to the architectural frame of the portal which prefigured and to a large extent conditioned the rise and the first developments of portal sculpture. Thus, in the first part of the lecture, the early period of Romanesque will be discussed and parallels drawn between the changes to the portal structure and those effecting other architectural elements, such as supports. In the second part of the lecture, the relationship between architecture and sculpture as seen in the great portals of the twelfth century will be presented by taking the jamb figure as a point of departure: iconographic and formal transformations reveal a constant process of change.


La théophanie du portail de Moissac. Une vision de l’Église céleste célébrant la liturgie eucharistique

The tympanum at Moissac presents a theophanic scene: Christ flanked by the Four Living Creatures of the Apocalypse, two six-winged angels, and the Twenty-Four Elders of the Apocalypse. Several clues, however, suggest that this theophany recalls the presence of Christ and his angels in the Church at the time of celebration of the Eucharist. One could say that the figure of Christ plays the role of high priest while the Living Creatures and angels – two seraphins or one seraphin accompanied by a cherub – sing the liturgical ‘sanctus’ with the members of the terrestrial Church who are assembled within Moissac’s sanctuary. The Elders accompany them perhaps; or at the very least, they stretch their chalices toward Christ, just as in other examples in which the Eucharistic dimension of these objects is confirmed by the iconographic context, as at Sant Tomas de Fluvià, San Silvestro at Tivoli and Autun. Moissac’s theophanic scene reigns over a tau-cross formed by the lintel and the trumeau, whose surfaces are drawn together by their identical decoration. The combination of these two themes offers an allusion to the decoration of sanctuary spaces; in addition, it especially alludes to the illustration of the ‘Te igitur’, the first oraison of the Canon of the Mass that often in manuscripts features a tau-cross with interlaced animals, much as we see on Moissac’s trumeau. The very close visual analogies between the portal and ‘Te igitur’ manuscript illumination constitute a decisive argument in favor of a liturgical interpretation of the theophany sculpture. The sculptural program on the lateral walls of the porch likewise refers to the eucharist by virtue of the scene of the Presentation in the Temple; the program also develops a moralizing discourse centered on the practice of virtue and the post-mortem destiny of the Just and Sinners. It may be that through these images, the monks of Moissac encouraged the faithful to increase their donations to the
poor, the dead, and to the abbey itself.


Le portail occidental de la cathédrale de Pampelune Et Maître Esteban : Relecture d’un mythe historiographique

Since 1934, west portal of Pamplona Cathedral’s capitals have been attributed to Esteban, whose name appears in documents from the cathedral’s archives. Thereafter, historiography has assigned to this master a vast corpus of works, as well as a sphere of activity in northern Spain. However, the texts and a new analysis of the works reveal another reality that calls into question this historiographic invention. The Pamplona portal therefore offers a promising case study through which to explore our understanding of historiography, its limits and its dangers, but also, and above all, the necessity of returning to a critical and methodical study of the works, which only permit a pertinent rereading of historiography, chronology, and the identity and role of artists in the artistic creation of the times.


Le chantier de Sainte-Foy de Conques : éléments de réflexion

Recent studies on the architecture of Sainte-Foy at Conques show that the building archaeology enables us to renew largely our opinion on the construction process of the abbey church. In order to put forward a more detailed construction process, we have undertaken a more in-depth archaeological study, though leaving out of consideration stylistic analysis of sculpture. The distribution of construction materials, stone cutting techniques, putlog holes and masons’ marks is the main archaeological data to be studied, in addition to the masonry. This reconsidered construction process offer a more rigorous chronologic reference to sculpture study, and some new research ideas may also be suggested.

 Immaculada LORES

Des arcs romains aux portails romans, un regard critique. Le portail de Ripoll, une fois de plus

The association of the Romanesque portal with Roman arches has always had a place among Romanesque sculpture historiography. In this paper we aim, in first place, to raise some critical considerations apropos of this topic, dealing with the excessive focus on the honorific and triumphal arch as possible “models” for the romanesque portals, considering that the portals of the Roman City walls ought to be taken into account. Secondly, we put forward a new proposal regarding the possible “Roman model” of the Santa Maria de Ripoll portal. In our opinion, we are dealing with the Christian triumphal arch of Santa Maria Maggiore, not with a pagan triumphal arch. The painted character of the portal of Ripoll, the distribution of the scenes by superimposed registers, the important development of the Exodus cycle and the Christian Late Antiquity monumental models already in use before Ripoll are some of the evidences of this hypothesis.


Portail roman en Aquitaine et ses implications funéraires

While it is well known that portals fulfilled a role in funerary practices and even as the site of burials, details regarding the use of Romanesque portals in these ritual uses are difficult to ascertain. This paper nonetheless tries to offer a general picture of the role portals played in these rites, taking Aquitaine as a case study. Of perhaps still greater interest than the rites themselves are the broader implications of portals in the funerary context. This study offers some considerations for how portal architecture and iconography recalled more ancient funerary traditions, including Early Christian and Carolingian, and recalled even the antique traditions of the Roman adventus. A second objective, therefore, is to consider how the symbolic value of the portal drew upon broader associations and thus consequently expanded the visual range of what could be considered the portal’s ‘funerary’ role.

Quitterie CAZES

Le décor des façades des salles capitulaires à l’époque romane

Chapterhouses in monasteries, cathedrals, and collegiate churches, are the site of daily meetings of the monks or canons. The first chapterhouses appear in the ninth century, and they become widespread in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Ranking second only to the church itself in terms of importance within an ecclesiastical complex, chapterhouses open onto the cloister by a door flanked by two or more bays. This facade often consists of rather limited decoration, although occasionally with historiated capitals. Sometimes, but rarely, the decoration is more complex. The exceptional examples of Saint-Georges de Boscherville and Saint-Aubin d’Angers are briefly mentioned here, while longer discussion is reserved for two important ensembles in Toulouse, now lost, namely those of the cathedral Saint-Etienne and the Benedictine monastery La Daurade.

Stéphane BÜTTNER

La mise en oeuvre de la façade et du grand portail de la nef de Vézelay : nouvelles données archéologiques

As much for the quality of its sculpture as for the originality of its architecture, the celebrated portal of Vézelay has raised many questions from art historians. Set at the juncture between the nave, rebuilt as of 1120, and the narthex, a project that was modified and eventually completed between 1145 and 1151, the portal has given rise to a wide variety of hypotheses. A preliminary condition study in advance of a large-scale restoration project of the central and lateral portals was therefore the opportunity to proceed with a fine-grained investigation of the facade as a whole. Scaffolding erected for the occasion offered the opportunity to apply an ‘archéologie du bâti’ approach to the study of the ensemble of works and thereby renew our understanding of the facade’s construction.
Apart from the different archaeological clues that point to the construction sequence of the portals, close observation of the elevations offered an opportunity to consider modifications to the original architectural plan, to discover new elements, and to advance newhypotheses regarding the placement of the portals within the overall construction project.


La façade de l’abbatiale de Saint-Gilles-du-Gard : nouvelles recherches sur la construction d’un chef d’oeuvre de l’art roman

New research investigating the masterpieces of mediaeval architecture, this study of the construction of the abbey of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard demonstrates the importance of detailed stone-by-stone analysis and graphic documentation. This archaeological investigation began as a component of the co-author’s doctoral thesis and has been ongoing since 2009 within the framework of two interdisciplinary projects. It has highlighted the impact of static problems which occurred during the building process, the erection and final shaping of the western façade, one of the most celebrated and indeed controversial late Romanesque monuments of southern France. Building archaeology has demonstrated that the abbey church was begun at the end of the twelfth century, and that a significant portion of the Romanesque claustrum had to be destroyed or modified to enable its construction. The sculpture of the façade, previously attributed to an earlier church and considered to be a precursor of the style inspired by influences from classical antiquity, is in fact fully consistent with the major stylistic achievements of the period.


La plaque de l’abbé Grégoire et l’ancienne « tribune » de Cuxa Évaluer l’incertitude dans la maquette patrimoniale

The Romanesque “tribune” of the abbey church of Cuxa was probably dismantled in the sixteenth century. No description or representation of this work of art, at the time of its existence, is to be found. It is known today thanks to more than one hundred and seventy pink marble sculptures scattered across France and the United States. The making of its virtual three-dimensional reconstruction has given us the opportunity to demonstrate that the slab representing Abbot Gregory belonged to this structure, raising questions about its commission and dating. This 3D reconstruction raises methodological issues about the qualification and evaluation of uncertainty in patrimonial models, which are discussed in this paper.


L’église Sainte-Marie-de-Riquer à Catllar et ses décors peints extérieurs

The church of Sainte-Marie-de-Riquer is situated a few kilometers away from Saint-Michel de-Cuxà. In 1956 after two years of a painted discharging arch, Pierre Ponsich publishes a monograph of the church. The architectural analysis he proposed, discribes a building from the eleventh century with a nave and semicircular apse bent in half-dome. A granite lintel and a dischanging arch probably decorated during the third quarter of the XIIth century with a Madonna and Child, surmount the south door of the building. The latter is built in pebbles of Têt. False joints carefully drawn at the tip of the trowel and painted in the red ocher decorate the outer walls. Other churches also give us to see painted tympanums and colored joints. However, we can see in Notre-Dame-de-Riquer a perfect illustration
of what could be the outside painted decoration of modest romanic edifices built in not coated quary stones or pebbles.

  1. dupire

    Serait-il possible d’obtenir en pdf le texte de chacune de ces communications?

    • Olivier Poisson

      Non, malheureusement. Nous ne disposons des pdf que des quelques numéros épuisés.

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