To honor Easter Sunday, we’ll post a selection of shots of Christ in Majesty from various Romanesque portals in France.
The first is the exquisite centerpiece of the north portal tympanum at Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire. Sophisticated and elegant, the sculpture still has traces of the original polychrome paint.
The following image from the western portal tympanum of the basilica at Conques is, for me, the sine qua non of Romanesque majesties. The elongated and stylized arms and the sloping ground below the throne are sublime details. Again, we can see traces of the polychrome paint.
The classically-inspired tympanum at the Cathédrale Saint Trophime in Arles is another masterpiece of the sculptor’s art. The realism and the details – of the drapery folds and exquisite borders, for example – show that this was the work of an artist of the highest capability.
The Ascension figure of the north portal of Cahors is the classic vesica piscis form of the mandorla. This shape is created when two circles of the same radius intersect at the midpoints of each other.
“Mandorla” means “almond” in Italian, and its application here is clear. The use of the mandorla is used to signify an aureola of light surrounding a holy person.
This Christ in Mandorla was also featured in the tympanum of the tiny church of Lassouts in the Aveyron. We happened to be driving in this remote area and saw the church on a corner. We had to get out and photograph the tympanum.
There are literally hundreds of these representations on tympanae throughout France and Spain, and they signify the greatest mystery of medieval Christianity. It is appropriate that we feature them on this day of the Risen Christ. Our next post will feature the same subject in Romanesque wall painting, particularly in oven vaults.