Oct. 28th, 2012

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I'm delighted to report that my feeling of general no-wellness has now become an evil lurgie of doom, so my brain isn't much good for anything much at all today.  I haven't really got much to say, either. I'm writing a little bit, and the words seem to be translating themselves down onto paper okay, but I'm going to give logical reporting and discussion a miss today, I think.

So it's time for pretty pictures instead!

What I noticed about the historic buildings of Languedoc was how the authorities had taken great care to theme the presentations at each different site.  If they were given enough dry, warm exhibition space, they created a small museum, dedicated to different aspects of the area's medieval past.

The claustral buildings at Lagrasse had found a secondary use as a museum dedicated to Romanesque sculpture.  The sculptures themselves were breathtaking, and they really couldn't have found a better setting.  So I thought today I'd treat you to a sample.

Two carved capitals, first of all:-


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Now, I've seen a few bits of Romanesque scupture in my time, but I don't think I've ever seen anything quite as fine as this.  Perhaps it's because most of the stuff I encounter is weathered to within an inch of its life, or perhaps it's because in situ sculpture is impossible to view in any detail because it's always located way above head heigh.  Anyway, these pieces were really delightful.

Here's a rather fine lion:-



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Onto human subjects now.  I'm not entirely sure what's going on here - it looks military in character, but since it derives from an ecclesiastical building, I suppose it may be Herod giving orders to begin the Slaugher of the Innocents:-



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It is, of course, a fine depiction of chainmail hauberks and kite-shaped shields, and the Ivery small!) horses look quite jolly, though the same can't really be said of the 'spur-clanking boneheads' (thanks to Simon Schama for the quote!) who bestride them!!

Carrying on the religious theme, we have here a relief featuring the dismemberment of a saint by a bull.  I think I featured a reproduction of this relief previously - this is the original, and - I think - a better photograph:-



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If you ask me, the bull's looking even more traumatised by the whole affair than the unfortunate saint...

Now, I'm not much of an art historian, but when I see carvings like this I can see similarities between the Norman French style of carving and the Norse sculpture of the north and west Atlantic seaboard.  This is perhaps not surprising, considering the 'Viking' origins of both groups, though it's not something I've really given much thought to, mainly because all things Norse have long left me cold (I did, however, watch Neil Oliver's recent series, and thoroughly enjoyed it, too...).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Lagrasse.  I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed exploring it in the first place!  And if I can persuade any of you to go and visit it next time you go to Carcassone, so much the better! 


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