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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)

Page 170

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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