Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Tympan at Conques - the Last Judgement

Above the door of the Abbey of St Foy at Conques, about 80km south of here, is a magnificent representation in stone carvings of the Last Judgement as seen through 12th Century medieval eyes.  The original was painted and the vestiges of the colours can still be seen.  Christ in his majesty is at the centre, with his saints on his right hand side and the righteous living under their protection below.  On the left of Christ, behind some guardian angels, are sinners being submitted to violent acts by monstrous creatures.  The Devil is well established in hell below and to the left of Christ.  Entering the gate of hell the sinner has to pass through a monster's mouth and inside hell more horror awaits.  Some of the sinners are being eaten, tortured or mutilated in quite horrific scenes. Around the edge of the arch Les Curieux are peeking through onto the scenes below, pulling back the stone as if it was a curtain.  

In the early medieval period, an era when access to books was limited to a few trained monks or scholars, and common people received the word of god through their priests in latin, the scenes on the Tympan were a vivid and highly graphic way of reinforcing the consequences of a life of sin.  I am sure they were highly effective.

A more detailed explanation of the Tympan is available in English here, courtesy of Augusta Education. A series of panoramic views which show the Abbatiale in 360 degree views is available here.

The embedded flash movie below allows you to zoom in and navigate around the image.  Be patient, it is a big file and slow to load on a rural 512k connection like mine.

Not working? Get the Flash Player to see this flash movie.

Technical note
I stood below the Tympan with a hand held Canon 450D camera and took two rows of overlapping pictures across the Tympan using the 18-55mm kit lens at 55mm.  I later stitched these together using PTGui.  I opened the resulting large image in Photoshop Elements and corrected the perspective by extending the top of the image upwards and widening it.  I then loaded this corrected image into Pano2VR and chose the parameters to create the flash movie.  This was then uploaded to SWFCabin and the code to embed it in Blogger was copied into the HTML of this posting.


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