Sunday, 16 October 2011

Avallon - Mostly about the églises (churches)

Lillian : When at home we hardly ever set foot inside a church but when overseas ...  
Audrey : Well they are often very lovely buildings with wonderful stained glass windows and things.

Lillian :  Wonderful patterns and colours - wouldn't they make fabulous fabric?

These are minor, side windows in Avallon's most famous church L’église Saint-Lazare 

The more important windows with depictions of saints appear to have been defaced - literally. 
Audrey : Even the babies!!  But why? 
Lillian :  Many things including churches were damaged or destroyed during the French revolution - I presume that is when these windows were damaged.  If we look closely at the saint in the middle (his name is written underneath "St Joahnes")  we can see that his face & hands appear to be scrubbed out - the glass is not broken. 

Audrey : We call it "stained glass" but really, it is sort of painted - coloured glass pieces with all the details added.  I guess that is how it could be damaged like that.

Lillian : L'eglise Saint-Lazare is a very old building - some  of it dates from the mid 1100s - and it has suffered over the years.  The bell-tower was struck by lightning and burnt down in 1589 and storms destroyed more of the church in the 17thC.  Some restoration work was done between 1860-65 and very ornate wood carving round the pipe organ dates from this time.

Audrey :  All that is inside the church - the front has wonderful and famous columns including a very skinny man ...

 Lillian :  Look at the drapery of his clothes!   These are wonderful examples of the Romanesque style and we all love this column - it almost looks like knitting.

Audrey : The tympanums are also famous though they are somewhat damaged.  But Saint Lazarus was restored to life 4 days after he died so I think his eglise could also be restored to its former glory.  

Lillian : Yes, Lazarus is sometimes depicted as a Bishop - because after he rose from the dead he went to  Marseilles and became a Bishop.

Audrey : There is another Lazarus in the bible and dogs are associated with him - sometimes the 2 Lazaruses were conflated.  Perhaps this explains this lovely doggy in a lintel on a house not far from the church.
Lillian :  It was like the dog was guarding the doorway, from above.

Audrey :  Houses in France often have little niches with statues - usually they are religious ones.

St Peter with the keys to heaven
Madonna and Child

Audrey :  The eyes of that wooden Madonna are rather spooky but we like the way she is showing her little one the bunch of grapes, like a good Burgundian mother teaching her son how to be a good wine-maker.

Lillian :  Religious imagery in France often depicts motherly love - many of the Madonna & Child depictions show a loving, teaching / learning interaction between the two.

This lovely window in L'église neuve de Saint-Martin shows Mary as a child, learning at her mother's knee.  "Glorie a la Ste Veirge" is written in the banner underneath.

This companion window shows a very charming family with the young Jesus admiring Joseph's carpentry while Mary looks on, she is sewing ... 

"Interieur de Nazareth"
it is also signed -  "A Vermonet  Reins  1896"

Lillian :  L'eglise neuve de Saint-Martin was built about 1650 but restored and enlarged in 1848.  Here is a side window -

  Audrey :  Isn't that pwetty! 

Lillian :  Our stylist found this - a very early harmonium perhaps?

Audrey : There was some great painting on the walls - some Trompe-l'œil

and a World War I memorial - showing angels amongst the horrid barbed wire, rifles, grenades ...

Lillian : It is signed Alp Jean Stival, 1920 and there are more photos on this blog - go the bottom of the page.  We couldn't find out much about the artist - Jean Alphonse Stival - except his dates 1879 - 1944.

Audrey :  Lillian, shall we show the people all the photos of the wonderful food at the Saturday morning market in our next post?

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