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Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, Abbey Churchlocked

  • Thomas W. Lyman

Extract

Former Cluniac monastery in south-western France. The wealthy abbey was founded in ad 855 and reformed by Cluny under Géraud II towards 1097. It had the privileges confirmed by Paschal II in 1103 and received a donation from the Bishop of Cahors in 1112. The church, which is set between the Limousin, Rouergue, and Quercy regions, comprises a choir surrounded by an ambulatory with three radiating chapels, a projecting transept, and an aisled nave of four bays, a scheme related to such Limousin churches as Le Dorat and St Robert. It is best known for the enormous portal embrasure carved in porous limestone on the south side of the nave. On the tympanum Christ is enthroned in front of the cross and other instruments of the Passion and appears between angels sounding trumpets. Below are seven beasts. This victorious Last Judgement is witnessed by Daniel and seven other figures, as well as by souls emerging from their tombs. The representation evokes St Matthew’s Gospel (19; 24), didactic drama, commentaries on Revelation 1 and other contemporary theological issues. The tympanum is supported by a lintel carved with rosettes and by a cusped trumeau bearing atlas figures. SS Peter and Paul appear on the jambs. On the flanking walls are didactic compositions under twin arches: ...

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