Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states
V: The arts in Cyprus, pp. 165-207 PDF (8.9 MB)
170 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES IV thenceforth the most characteristic form of Cypriote decoration, one that degenerates easily into an ungainly monotony. Of figure sculpture it was thought till recently that little remained: two censing angels on either side of the main tympanum, again more Italianate than French; some battered remnants in small niches round the northern door; some decapitated beasts and defaced masks in the foliage; a figure with a sundial high up on one of the buttresses; some corbels and consoles; and some mutilated but striking gargoyles, which resemble those that are such a conspicuous feature of the church of St. Urbain at Troyes. In 1948, however, an opportunity occurred to clean the porch and replace the crumbling plaster covering the main tympanum. It was then discovered that under this plaster covering, the voussoir sculpture still existed, singularly undamaged. The arch has four orders, the outermost one with a small decorative pattern, then the other three with figures set in niches, as on the northern door, but here perfectly preserved—ecciesiastics, prophets, kings and queens (pl. LVIa). The two middle rows con tain thirty figures each; the innermost one twenty-eight, fourteen kings balanced by fourteen queens. The niches are flat and round-headed, and figure and niche are carved from the same block so that there is no projection. A similar but single row of niched figures can be seen on the south doorway of the church of St. Jean-Baptiste at Chaumont-en-Bassigny, where the foliage is also not unlike that of Hagia Sophia. Their survival is probably due to their unambitious technique. The solid, squat forms were difficult to break off, easy to plaster over. Their large heads, staring eyes and the straight line of the garments above their ill-formed feet suggest a local, thoroughly provincial sculptor, but there are strong echoes of the greater achievements of the Ile de France; some of the kings crook their thumbs through the bands of their cloaks with the famous gesture that passed from Chartres to Rheims, and from Rheims to the rider of Bamberg. The little queen holding her pet dog gathers her draperies with a swing of true French elegance (pl. LIXa).5 The mason who directed the carving knew either in the drawings of some sketch book or at first hand the style of northern France, though he and his assistants were not skilled in the execution of it. The removal of a band of plaster from the foot of the tympanum revealed carved figures below the three central niches, which with a smaller niche on either side had always been visible. 5. The statues, out of deference to Moslem feelings, have been covered over with removable boards at times, but lately have bcen left exposed.
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