Sunday 12 January 2014

Wooden Faces

The Collégiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montrésor has some beautiful wood carvings, especially on its stall ends. The faces may be of wood but they are lively and each profile is different.
Door to the left of the altar with three faces in roundels
A collegiate church is one where a college of canons conducts the daily office of worship; they are non-monastic, or 'secular' clergy. The Collégiale at Montrésor was built in the first half of the 16th century and we have written about the church before here.
Decorative door roundel, the man has a lovely curling feather in his cap
Stall-end roundel of a soldier: the helmet has a great curving foliate swish at the back
It was founded in 1522 by Imbert de Bastarnay, Seigneur du Bouchage. Imbert wanted a fitting monument in which to house his tomb and to ensure prayers were said for him and his family. Therefore, he had the collégiale built and endowed so that a group of canons would conduct the daily services in which he would be remembered. He died only a year after work began in 1523. However, work continued and the church was finally finished in 1541.
Another stall-end roundel: the hair is tightly curled and the figure sports a large earring
The collégiale still has the 16th century stalls in which the canons would have sat and they have some lovely carvings. The faces, set in roundels at the end of the stalls, are individualistic as are the faces on the door to the left of the altar.
Three of the stalls with their seats raised
In addition, some of the stall seats have carved misericords which retain a more mediaeval style. These little ledges, under the flipped-up seats, would allow the canons to rest their bottoms during those periods of the service when they would be standing for a long time.

misericord: multi-winged angel

misericord: a skull
misericord: probably a devil


Susan said...

These 'portrait' roundels are always worth looking at. There are good ones on furniture at Chenonceau and in the chapel at Ussé. They seem to be 'types' rather than individuals, and on cabinets there seems to be a protocol of having a man and a woman, facing one another, with the woman on the left and the man on the right as you look at the piece.

I'm really tempted to hypothesise that the curly haired individual is a Moor.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - Suspect they probably had a stock book of drawings from which they could choose. Then it would depend on the skill of the carver to make them come 'alive'. Love the fact that the chappie in the cap with a feather is a bit of a chin-less wonder.

Re: Moor -- Same here. We had a discussion about it, especially if you consider the profile as well as the way the hair is portrayed....

Tim said...

I love the soldier's nose - he ought to have a cauliflower ear too, but it's under the helmet! P.

Perpetua said...

Oh, how super. I love the roundels with their distinctive individuality. :-) There's a Collegiale in Mortain not far from our French cottage, which has rather fine misericords. It was founded by Count Robert, the half-brother of William the Conqueror, and is well worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Pauline - in fairness I think he's lost the tip but the loss adds to the character and does make him look a serious pugilist :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - oh thanks for that. We've made a note and if anywhere near will go and have a look.