MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, French
(active c. 1140 at Beaulieu)
South portalc. 1140
Abbey Church of Saint-Pierre, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne
The sculpted tympanum is an important innovation of Romanesque sculpture. It began to be used extensively for figurative sculpture in the first quarter of the twelfth century, particularly in France and northern Spain.
The tympanum has as its main theme the revelation of Christ's Second Coming. It is dominated by the figure of Christ, who is represented as a triumphant Roman emperor: he is semi-clothed, showing his wounds, and with outstretched arms in the form of a cross. Surrounding him are angels, who hold like trophies the instruments of his Passion, including a large crucifix.
The bizarre animals in the double lintel below probably refer to the apocalyptic creatures described in the Books of Daniel and Revelation. The central pier supporting the lintel is known as a trumeau. It contains a caryatid figure, who strains to hold up the lintel and tympanum above him.