(active c. 1120 in Dordogne)

Exterior view

c. 1120
Saint-Front, Périgueux (Dordogne)

At the beginning of the twelfth century, the west of France experienced the sudden blossoming of the art of the domed vault, a feature probably inspired by the domed church of San Marco in Venice. The most significant domed churches of western France are the convent church of Fontevraud, Saint-Pierre in Angoulême, Saint-Front in Périgueux, and, in its renovated form, Saint-Hilaire in Poitiers.

The cathedral of Saint-Front at Périgueux is a large building in the shape of a Greek cross with five domes. The domes were once different in size, but in the nineteenth century were redesigned by architect Paul Abadie to have one size, and to be symmetrical.

Like San Marco in Venice, the domes rest on pendentives set on short barrels. The powerful piers on the corner of each square are pierced by passages which are either groin-vaulted or covered by small domes in the Venetian style. What distinguishes Saint-Front from San Marco is the degree of decoration: the cathedral of Périgueux is completely bare.

The photo shows a view of the domes.

View the ground plan of Saint-Front, Périgueux.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.