Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 249 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2.

But the name of the architect who was employed is unrecorded.—­The rest of the church was erected at different periods:  the northern aisle in 1410; the opposite one some time afterwards; and the eastern extremity, with the vaulted roof of the choir and aisles, in 1021.—­With this knowledge, it is not difficult to account for the diversity of styles that prevails in the building.—­The western front contains much good tracery, and well disposed, apparently as old as the tower.—­The exterior of the east end, with its side-chapels, is rather Italian than gothic.—­The interior is of a purer style:  the five arches forming the apsis are perhaps amongst the finest specimens of the luxuriant French gothic:  roses are introduced with great effect amongst the tracery and friezes, with which the walls are covered.  The decorations of the chapels round the choir, although they display a tendency towards Italian architecture, are of the most elaborate arabesque.  The niches are formed by escalop shells, swelling cylinders of foliage, and scrolls:  some of the pendants from the roofs are of wonderfully varied and beautiful workmanship.—­The nave has nothing remarkable, saving the capital of one of the side pillars.  Its sculptures, with the exception of one mutilated group, have been drawn by Mr. Cotman.—­The subjects are strangely inappropriate, as the ornaments of a sacred edifice.  All are borrowed from romance.—­Aristotle bridled and saddled by the mistress of Alexander.  Virgilius, or, as some say, Hippocrates, hanging in the basket.  Lancelot crossing the raging flood.—­The fourth, which is not shewn in the sketch, is much defaced, but seems to have been taken from the Chevalier et la Charette.  According to the usual fate of ancient sculpture, the marguilliers of the parish have so sadly encumbered it with white-wash, that it is not easy to make out the details; and a friend of mine was not quite certain whether the bearded figure riding on the lion, was not a youthful Cupid.  No other of the capitals has at present any basso-relievo of this kind; but I suspect they have been chopped off.  The church suffered much from the Calvinists; and afterwards, during the revolution, when most of the bas-reliefs of the portal were destroyed.

[Illustration:  Tower of St. John’s Church, at Caen]

The neighboring church of St. John appears likewise to be the work of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  This building and St. Peter’s agree in general character:  their towers are nearly the counterparts of each other.  But, in St. John’s, the great tower is placed at the west end of the edifice, the principal portal being beneath it.  This is not very usual in the Norman-gothic churches, though common in England.  The tower wants a spire; and, at present, it leans considerably out of the perpendicular line, so that some apprehensions are entertained for its safety.  It was originally intended that the church should also be surmounted by a central tower;

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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