MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, French
(active 1125-1150 at Saint-Gilles)
Abbey Church of Saint-Gilles, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard
Saint-Gilles was not just a place of pilgrimage but also a place where French pilgrims to Rome set sail from, a place where pilgrims to Santiago gathered. The multi-functional nature of the place ensured its importance. The façade of the former abbey church is unique within the Romanesque period, and is divided into three sections by walls set between the widely separated portals which are flanked by massive corner towers. The central portal is emphasized by a raised lintel and a trumeau. Here, the adoption of Roman triumphal arches is mixed with the effect of Classical theatre architecture.
The complex stepping of the entire structure is accompanied by a frieze which stretches over the entire front and is picked up in the side portals by the lintels one level lower. Many figures are portrayed in what is both the first complete, and the most extensive, cycle showing the Passion in medieval sculpture.