Braine, Église Saint-Yved


    A collegiate church of Premonstratensian canons was founded circa 1130 by Josselin de Vierzy, Bishop of Soissons, with an endowment provided by André de Baudement, seneschal of Champagne and of Brie, and his wife Agnès. At the end of the twelfth century their grand-daughter, Agnès, and her husband Robert of Dreux (d. 1188; brother of Louis VII) provided additional funds leading to the construction of the existing church. The couple was represented at the feet of the Virgin in the axial window and Agnès celebrated as founder. Said to have been consecrated in 1216, the church, constructed probably from circa 1190 to the 1220 s became the necropolis of the counts of Dreux beginning with Agnès and Robert. Tombs were concentrated in the south transept.


    Begun ca. 1180


    The plan is a basilica w-189 intersected by a transept terminated to the east by a short choir w-56 where a central apse w-3 is flanked on either side with diagonally placed chapels that open widely into the space. The crossing space is crowned by a lantern tower w-89. Most of the nave w-11 and frontispiece w-9 have since been demolished.


    The structure is a three stories with arcaded dark triforium and modest sized clerestory, with rib vaults throughout. Memorable about the building are its slender columns that help to optically unified the space.


    This is a collegiate church of Premonstratension canons founded in 1180 founded by Agnès de Baudement and her husband Robert of Dreux as a necropolis for the family of the Counts of Dreux. Consecrated in 1216 the construction probably ran from the 1180-1220's. The tympanum w-139 from the original west portal has been reset inside in west portion of the building. The tympanum dates from around early 13th-century, around the year 1200. Coronation of the Virgin Mary and dormition scene with a Tree of Jesse in the voussoirs similar to Senlis b-1050.

    Sculptural Program

    After falling into disrepair after the French Revolution, the west end was demolished in 1832, and therefore only fragments survive from its sculptural program. Fragments from what was once the central portal of the western frontispiece have been reinstalled on the verso of the modern west front. These fragments were originally part of a Coronation of the Virgin portal, in the same vein as Senlis.
    The central panel of the tympanum depicts the Coronation, with both Christ and the Virgin seated and nimbed, and the Virgin crowned. The Virgin is seated in profile, and her hands were likely once clasped in prayer (which differentiates it from otherwise similar depictions of this theme at Senlis, Mantes, Laon, and Chartres).
    Only one panel from the lintel survives, which depicts the Dormition of the Virgin which was presumably paired with an Assumption scene, which is no longer extant. In the archivolts, several voussoirs survive with figures that once belonged to a Tree of Jesse, along with two prophets.
    Sauerländer considers the dedication of the church in 1216 to be the terminus ante quem for the extant sculptural material from Saint-Yved, and a date of around 1205, as proposed by Williamson, seems reasonable.
    The iconography of this portal is typical of Coronation portals of this period, and it is a testament to the importance of the cult of the Virgin at this time. The sculpture from this portal at Saint-Yved is linked, both stylistically and iconographically, to the cathedrals of Laon and Senlis.


    Saint-Yved is sometimes understood in opposition to the "orthodox" forms of Chartres Cathedral b-1107: at Braine the cylindrical supports are not unified, the clerestory is modest in size and characteristic local forms are applied which included telescoping buttresses and foliate bands around the windows and delicacy in articulation. The church of Saint-Yved speaks a language of articulation linking it with the buildings in both Laon pl-1003 and Soissons pl-1008. The plan type with diagonally-set chapels--probably derived from nearby Mons-en-Laonnais and ultimately from S-Vincent in Laon b-1026--was repeated in Saint-Michel-en-Thiérache b-1039 and elsewhere (Trier, Troyes Cathedral etc).

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