Courmelles, Église Saint-Georges


    Begun ca. 1160


    A basilica with a chevet plat, flanked by aisles that is terminated by two apsidal chapels with massive tower integrated into the south aisle.


    Three-story elevation with arcade, triforium and tall clerestory.


    The 12th-century tower survives with the rest of the building having been rebuilt between around 1200 and 1230 beginning in the central and eastern parts of the church and ending with the four western bays.

    Sculptural Program

    The west doorway has been damaged and the extant sculpture is severely eroded; however, sufficient traces remain for us to recognize compositional similarities between these sculptures and those belonging to the cathedral of Sens.
    The portal adjoined to the south flank of the nave, on the other hand, survives mostly intact. A representation of the Virgin, who is both enthroned and crowned, occupies the central zone of the rounded tympanum. In all likelihood a sculpture of the infant Christ was initially perched on her lap. Two genuflecting angels, both censing with their right hands and carrying incense boats in their left, surround the Virgin. Two figures, much smaller in scale than those just described, appear to be founders, both of them evidently ecclesiastical figures. A foliate band frames this scene, running along the arch of the doorway.
    The closest stylistic comparisons to the figures in this portal -- their faces round and serene and their drapery falling in trough-like formations -- can be found in the figure of Saint Ulphe on the western frontispiece at the cathedral of Amiens, or in the figures adorning the jambs of the Calixtus portal at the cathedral of Reims. The presence of founder figures in the tympanum is a rare occurrence, with one significant known antecedent at Chartres.
    Sauerländer has dated the portal on the south flank of the nave to the 1220s.


    Details of articulation refer to local monuments: S-Léger of Soissons b-1053, S-Loup-du Naud b-1226 and S-Ayoul in Provins b-1301. The choir has no flying buttresses w-41 or tracery w-134; its flat east end makes reference to Laon Cathedral b-1024. The later western bays of the nave suggest that the builders were aware of Reims Cathedral b-1044 with the tall clerestory, pilier cantonné and flying buttresses. The exquisite sculptured portal with the donor figures dates to the period around 1200. Fine quality high level sculpture of the Annunciation, Nativity, Infancy scene, and Epiphany, Presentation with a Majesty Domni and column figures seems archaic as it is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic modes. The chevet plat can be seen in terms of Laon with the rose window w-117 and passage running in front.

    E. S. Lane, "The Integration of a Twlefth-Century Tower into a Thirteenth-Century Church: The Case of Notre-Dame de Donnemarie-en-Montois," JSAH March 2005, 74-99.