Cathedral of St Lazare

Example of Romanesque style: Cathedral of St Lazare, Autun, Burgundy, France (1120-1146)

  • A Roman Catholic Church
  • A fine example of Romanesque Architecture
  • The cathedral is dedicated to St Lazarus, which explains the Last Judgement scene of the tympanum (the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over the entrance)
  • Contains some of the finest figure capitals (the decorated, top part of a column)
  • The capitals adorn the columns which run down the nave
  • Gislebertus was the sculptor
  • He signed his name under the feet of Christ on the tympanum - Gislebertus hoc fecit (Gislebertus made this). Including a signature was a rare occurrence in medieval art.


The Tympanum

The pilgrims entering the church would have to pass under the tympanum, which illustrated the day of judgement.

How do you think it would have made the pilgims feel?

The tympanum shows tiny figures and souls rising from their tombs. Some of them are saved and welcomed into heaven, however, some of them are grabbed by demons and thrust into hell.

Do you like the sculptures?

Do you find them scary?

Do you think these sculptures would have frightened people in the 12th century?

In later years the church grew ashamed of the grotesque and dramatic images of the Romanesque period and the tympanum at Autun was plastered over. However, this only served in its favour, as it protected it from being damaged during the war. In the 19th century the plaster was removed revealing a well preserved scene.


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