Closed doors as bearers and constructors of images : Santa Sabina and Notre Dame du Puy

Title: Closed doors as bearers and constructors of images : Santa Sabina and Notre Dame du Puy
Variant title:
  • Zavřené dveře jako nositelé obrazů : bazilika svaté Sabiny a Notre Dame du Puy
Source document: Convivium. 2019, vol. 6, iss. Supplementum, pp. [24]-45
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
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The current, vigorous debate about the significance and liminal attributes of doors, thresholds, or other entrance spaces prompts consideration of how closed doors construct images. This paper offers a new interpretation of two examples of wooden doors decorated with figurative scenes, preserved from the fifth and twelfth centuries: the main doors of Rome's Basilica of Santa Sabina and the pair of porch doors at Notre Dame du Puy. Using their context consisting of local liturgical praxis, physical limits and placement, or specific functions rooted in the intermediary character of narthexes and porticos in general, the paper analyzes not only the two physical objects per se and their imagery, but also, and more significant, their two possible statuses. It seems that these elaborately decorated story-telling doors, conceived for the eyes of specific viewers, might somehow have served as their own functional properties were suppressed for the sake of their symbolic value. While being shut, these examples offer formal and iconological parallels explainable by the archetypal understanding of a door as the materialization of the potential of a passage.
This article was carried out as part of the ERC CZ project "Radikální konverze? Vizuální umění, rituály, performance a konverze v raně křesťanské iniciaci (LL1904)".