Saturday, June 07, 2014

Landevennec abbey, museum

Out of the dark,




polychrome, bare-breasted, with saints .

From beeswax and amber, brimstone, horn and gall,

 the pages take flight

out of the dark.



marja-leena said...

Stunning photos of great mystery!

How amazing that it was destroyed and rebuilt so many times. I wish I could visit it. We can't find anything that old here in Western Canada.

Zhoen said...

This is wonderful. I've always had a hunger for this era, so little information forthcoming.

Catalyst said...


christopher said...


Lucy said...

Thanks people. We tend to drift through museums to take in the overall aesthetics, space, ambiance etc rather than reading too many details, only picking up what catches the eye. Landevennec is certainly wondrously old, though I see that according to the Brittany Tourism link, the manuscripts are copies, the originals being in New York, so there are very old things to be found in the New World too!

I too have a penchant for the dark ages. Living here rather than in the UK though, you become aware that the big 1066 watershed doesn't stand in the same way, and the dark ages are more seen as post-Roman/early Mediaeval; kids at school learn about Clovis and the Franks and Charlemagne and stuff. If anything the big transitional epoch is the 12th century proto-Renaissance, Chartres, the Schools, St Louis, Blanch of Castile, Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux...

The (Fallen) Madonna with the Big Boobies is probably 17th century, she's unique and very quaint, with the little saints at her knee like toddlers.

Sheila said...

I absolutely love the pages taking flight! Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Hello Lucy,
It is really interesting to observe how your sharp and clever eye saw my haunts.
Just a little clarification “The Madonna with the Big Boobies” is not really a Madonna. She is a very important character in Breton hagiography, being the mother of Gwennole, the founder of Landévennec. She is Gwenn Teir Bronn, i.e. “Three-Breasted Gwenn” (Gwenn meaning The White One/The Blessed One). She is said to have had one “boob” for every son she had to feed. There were three of them: Gwennole (Winwaloe), Jacut (Iacut), Gwezenneg (Guethenoc). It looks indeed like a Welsh triad.
Look, she gave birth to a fourth child, Klervi, a girl, but was not granted a fourth breast by the Almighty… A case for women’s lib?

Rouchswalwe said...

"Pages taking flight" is arresting! Wow. I have an interest in that time period, too. At the moment, I'm studying up on Hildegard von Bingen, a little before the time period you've captured here.

Fascinating notes by Setu! Merci!

Lucy said...

Thanks again.

Sheila, it's a lovely display isn't it? I think the flight effect was intentional.

Setu - lovely to see you again after so long! And as ever you delight and astonish and put me to shame with your knowledge and erudition. We were very taken with Landevennec and the area, and intend to explore further another time. The Fallen Madonna with the BBs was, I'm rathr embarrassed to admit, a reference to a British comedy which I swear on whatever cultural credibility remains to me I never really watched, but Tom did, and somehow the Fallen Madonna epithet has made its way into popular parlance! I didn't notice that this lady had three, she certainly has a rather intriguing slot in her garments for ease of access. I see now that the saints are labelled, yet I seem to remember in a guide book perhaps, a reference to a bare-breasted madonna. She's very lovely anyway, with her rather stern wooden gaze and high cheekbones,and I do love the way they painted those wood polychrome draperies, with flowers and stars and other motifs; our local baby Jesus at Trédaniel has a lovely little white flannel nightgown with blue spots, while his mother has blue with gold stars, of course. All the boys seem to be at different stages and ages, so maybe Klervi came later and got all three to herself!

Rouchswalwe - In fact most of the things here come from all different times, but the foundation of Landevennec is certainly dark ages, Carolingian, well before Hildegard, who was a part of the Rhineland flowering of the wonderful 12th century of course. With German, you probably have access to all kinds of good texts and stuff about her; there was a very compelling and haunting film about her about 20 years ago with Patricia Routledge, we've got it in a DVD package with lots of other material, I've looked on Youtube but it's not there, but it's well worth seeking out. We went to Rudesheim and Bingen quite a lot of years ago now, it's a lovely place to explore.

HKatz said...

Stunning photos. I love the last one, of a forest with magic in the air, and the eeriness of the Gallo-Roman sculpture. Also the expressions of wonder and interest on the pre-Christian art.