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Sculptures romanes

The Basilica of Saint Sernin

Oiseaux dans des lianes, chapiteau de colonne simple. Pierre. Inv. Me 227
© Oiseaux dans des lianes, chapiteau de colonne simple. Pierre. Inv. Me 227

The Basilica of Saint Sernin, jewel of Romanesque art, stands on the site of an ancient
palaeo-Christian basilica where the faithful venerated the tomb of Saint Saturnin. The new basilica, on which building began around 1070, owed its construction to Bishop Isarn, a fervent disseminator of the Gregorian reform.

The remnants conserved in the Musée des Augustins are elements from two building campaigns. The campaign during which the western façade was built was apparently modified before completion in around 1110. The sculptures already completed were moved elsewhere.This was apparently the case for the marble bas-relief The Sign of the Lion and the Sign of the Ram which joined the museum's collections as early as 1800, on the initiative of the curator of the time, Jean-Paul Lucas.

The cloister built in the 12th century (where today's Place Saint Sernin is) was destroyed between 1803 and 1808. The museum does however own a series of capitals in which several groups can be distinguished, each with a clear ornamental and animal repertoire.
A set of four capitals presents lions carved in very high relief, to such an extent that they appear to be detached from the central core of the bell.According to QuitterieCazes, these capitals represent the height of the Baroque impulse which appeared in the reliefs of the western façade of Saint Sernin around 1100 – 1110.
A second series shows small figures and animals, surrounded by foliage, rendered with great skill. At this point, a new taste for the miniaturisation of backgrounds appears.

Personnages et animaux dans des lianes, chapiteau de colonne simple. Pierre. Inv. Me 212

Personnages et animaux dans des lianes
chapiteau de colonne simple. Pierre
Inv. Me 212

The last group of capitals presents lions and birds surrounded by foliage. Here, the quest for virtuosity seems to overtake the narrative. These capitals are only approximatively dated to the first half of the 12th century.

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