ABOUT six miles north of the original Paris stands the great Basilica of St. Denis, the only church in Paris, and I think in France, called by that ancient name, which carries us back at once to the days of the Roman Empire, and in itself bears evidence to the antiquity of the spot as a place of worship. Around it, a squalid modern industrial town has slowly grown up ; but the nucleus of the whole place, as the name itself shows, is the body and shrine of the martyred bishop, St. Denis. Among the numerous variants of his legend, the most accepted is that which claims that the apostle of Paris carried his head to this spot from Montmartre. Others say he was beheaded in Paris and walked to Montmartre, his body being afterward translated to the abbey ; while there are who see in his legend a survival , of the Dionysiac festival and sacrifice of the vine-growers around Paris Denis = Dionysius Dionysus. However that may be, a chapel was erected in 275 above the grave of St. Denis, on’ the spot now occupied by the great basilica ; and later, Ste. Geneviève was instrumental in restoring it. Dagobert I., one of the few Frankish kings who lived much in Paris, built a “basilica ” in place of the chapel (63o), and instituted by its side a Benedictine abbey. The church and monastery which possessed the actual body of the first bishop and great martyr of Paris formed, naturally, the holiest site in the neighbourhood of the city ; and even before Paris became the capital of a kingdom, the abbots were persons of great importance in the Frankish state. The desire to repose close to the grave of a saint was habitual in early times, and even, with the obvious alteration of words, antedated Christianity, every wealthy Egyptian desiring in the same way to ” sleep with Osiris.” Dagobert himself was buried in the church he founded, beside the holy martyr ; and in later times this very sacred spot became for the same reason the recognised burial-place of the French kings. Dagobert’s fane was actually consecrated by the Redeemer himself, who descended for the purpose by night, with a great multitude of saints and angels.
The existing basilica, though of far later date, is the oldest church of any importance in the neighbourhood of Paris. It was begun by Suger, abbot of the monastery, and sagacious minister of Louis VI. and VII., in 1121. As yet, Paris itself had no great church, Notre-Dame having been commenced nearly fifty years later. The earliest part of Suger’s building is in the Romanesque style; it still retains the round Roman arch and many other Roman constructive features. During the course of the fifty years occupied in building the basilica, however, the Gothic style was developed ; the existing church therefore exhibits both Romanesque and Gothic work, with transitional features between the two, which add to its interest. Architecturally, then, bear in mind, it is in part Romanesque, passing into Gothic. The interior is mostly pure early Gothic.
The neighbourhood to Paris, the supremacy of the great saint, and the fact that St. Denis was especially the royal abbey, all combined to give it great importance. Under Suger’s influence, Louis VI. adopted the oriflamme, or standard of St. Denis, as the royal banner of France. The Merovingian and Carlovingian kings, to be sure,Germans rather than French, had naturally been buried elsewhere, as at Aix-la-Chapelle, Rheims, and Soissons, though even of them a few were interred beside the great bishop martyr, but as soon as the Parisian dynasty of the Capets came to the throne, they were almost without exception buried at St. Denis. Hence the abbey came to be regarded at last mainly as the mausoleum of French royalty, and is still too often so regarded by tourists. But though the exquisite Renaissance tombs of the house of Valois would well deserve a visit on their on account, they are, at St. Denis, but accessories to the great basilica. Besides the actual tombs, too, many monuments were erected here, in the thirteenth century by St. Louis, and afterward to earlier kings buried elsewhere, some relic of whom, however, the abbey possessed and thus honoured. Hence several of the existing tombs are of far later date than the kings they commemorate ; those of the Valois almost alone are truly contemporary.
At the Revolution, the basilica suffered irreparable losses. The very sacred reliquary containing the severed head of St. Denis was destroyed, and the remains of the martyr and his companions desecrated. The royal bones and bodies were also disinterred and flung into trenches indiscriminately. The tombs of the kings were condemned to destruction, and many, chiefly in metal, were destroyed or melted down, but not a few were saved with difficulty by the exertions of antiquaries, and were placed in the Museum of Monuments at Paris (now the École des Beaux-Arts), of which Alexandre Lenoir was curator. Here, they were greatly hacked about and mutilated, in order to fit them to their new situations. At the Restoration, however, they were sent back to St. Denis, together with many other monuments which had no real place there ; but, being housed in the crypt, they were further clipped to suit their fresh surroundings. Finally, when the basilica was restored, under Viollet-le-Duc, the tombs were replaced as nearly as possible in their old positions ; but several intruders from elsewhere are still interspersed among them. Louis XVIII. brought back the mingled bones of his ancestors from the common trench and interred them in the crypt.
Remember, then, these things about St. Denis : (1) It is, or was, first and above all things, the shrine of St. Denis and his fellow martyrs. (2) It contains the remnant of the tombs of the French kings. (3) It is older in part than almost any other building we have yet examined.
As regards the tombs, again, bear in mind these facts : All the oldest have perished ; there are none here that go back much further than the age of St. Louis, though they often represent personages of earlier periods or dynasties. The best are those of the Renaissance period. These are greatly influenced by the magnificent tomb of Giangaleazzo Visconti, at the Certosa di Pavia, near Milan. Especially is this the case with the noble monument of Louis XII., which closely imitates the Italian work. Now, you must remember that Charles VIII. and Louis XII. fought much in Italy, and were masters of Milan ; hence this tomb was familiar to them ; and their Italian experiences had much to do with the French Renaissance. The Cardinal d’Amboise, Louis’s minister, built the Château de Gaillon, and much of the artistic impulse of the time was due to these two. Henceforth recollect that, though François Ier is the Prince of the Renaissance, Louis XII. and his minister were no mean forerunners.
The basilica is open daily ; the royal tombs are shown to parties every half-hour ; but the attendants hurry visitors through with perfunctory haste, and no adequate time is given to examine the monuments. Therefore, do not go to St. Denis till after you have seen the Renaissance sculpture at the Louvre, which will have familiarised you with the style, and will enable you better to grasp their chief points quickly. Also, go in the morning, on a bright day ; in the late afternoon or on dark days you see hardly anything.
Start from the Gare du Nord. About four trains run every hour. There is also a tram-way which starts from the Opéra, the Madeleine, or the Place du Châtelet, but the transit is long, and the weary road runs endlessly through squalid suburbs, so that the railway is far preferable. Start early. Take your opera-glasses.
From the St. Denis station, take the road directly to the right as far as the modern Parish Church, when a straight street in front of you (a little to the left) leads directly to the basilica. On the left of the place in front of the great church is the Hôtel de Ville, on which it is interesting to notice, high up on the front, the ancient royal war-cry of ” Montjoye St. Denis ! ”
Turn to the basilica. The façade, of the age of Abbot Suger, is very irregular. It consists of two lateral towers, and a central portion, answering to the nave. Only the south tower is now complete ; the other, once crowned by a spire, was struck by lightning in 1837. Ob-serve the inferiority in unity of design to the fine façade of Notre-Dame, the stories of the towers not answering in level to those of the central portion. We have here the same general features of two western towers and three recessed portals ; but Notre-Dame has improved upon them with Gothic feeling. The lower arches are round and Romanesque. The upper ones show in many cases an incipient Gothic tendency. The rose window has been converted into a clock. On either side of it, in medallions, are the symbols of the four Evangelists. Observe the fine pillars and Romanesque arcade of the one complete tower. Also, the reliefs of Kings of Israel and Judah in the blind arcade which caps the third story in both towers. The coarse and ugly battlements which spoil the front are part of the defensive wall of the abbey, erected during the English wars in the fourteenth century. Behind them, a little way off, you can see the high and pointed roof of the nave, crowned by the statue of the patron, St. Denis.
Now, enter the enclosure and examine the three round-arched portals. The central door-way has for its subject the usual scene of the Last Judgment. The architecture of the framework is still in the main that of the thirteenth century. The relief in the tympanum has been much restored, but still retains its Romanesque character. In the centre is Christ, enthroned, with angels. On his right hand, the blessed, with the angel of the last trump as elsewhere. On his left, the condemned, with the angel bearing the sword, and thrusting the wicked into hell, all conventional features. The Latin inscriptions mean, “Come, ye blessed of my father ” and “Depart from me, ye wicked.” Beneath is the General Resurrection, souls rising (mostly naked) from the tomb. To the right and left of the doorway, below, are the frequent subjects of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Above, on the archway, figures of saints and patriarchs, amongst whom is conspicuous King David. Notice, in the very centre or key of the archway, Christ receiving souls from angels. To his right, Abraham with three blessed souls in his bosom (as at St. Germain l’Auxerrois). To his left, devils seizing the condemned, whom they thrust into hell, while angels struggle for them. Higher still, on the arch, angels swinging a censer, and an angel displaying a medallion of the lamb. This door formed the model on which those of Notre-Dame, the Sainte Chapelle, St. Germain l’Auxerrois, and many others in Paris of later date, were originally based. The actual doors have naive bronze reliefs of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension. Notice the quaint character of these reliefs, and of the delicate decorative design which surrounds them, broken in the case of the Supper at Emmaus, by the figure of a monk, probably Abbot Suger, grasping a pillar. The Resurrection, with its sleeping Roman soldiers, and the Kiss of Judas, with Peter sheathing his sword and Christ healing the ear of Malchus, are also very typical. Do not fail to notice, either, the beautiful decoration of the pilasters and their capitals. All this is delicate and characteristic Romanesque tracery.
The other doors commemorate the history of St. Denis. On the south door is a much restored and practically modern relief of St. Denis in prison, with Christ bringing him the last sacrament ; it has been largely made up by the aid of the old French painting of the same subject in the Louvre. In front are figures symbolical of his martyrdom, the executioner, etc. On the sides, reliefs of the months. On the north door, St. Denis condemned and on his way to Montmartre, with his two companions, Rusticus and Eleutherius, chained ; they are accompanied in the sky by the Eternal Father and the heavenly host. On the archway, interesting reliefs of the three martyrs, with an angel supporting the châsse containing their relics. On the sides, the signs of the zodiac.
Walk round the north side to observe the decorated flamboyant architecture of the chapels of the north aisle (much later) with the flying buttresses above them. Also, the north transept, with its rose window, and the peculiar radiating chapels around the apse, which form a characteristic feature of the Romanesque style. Observe these as well as you can from the extreme end of the railing. Return to transept. The sculpture over the north portal represents the decapitation of St. Denis. On the centre pier, a Madonna and Child. To the right and left, Kings of Judah.
The south side is inaccessible. It is en-closed by buildings on the site of the old monastery (not ancient age of Louis XIV.), now used as a place of education for daughters of Chevaliers de la Légion d’Honneur.
The interior is most beautiful. The first portion of the church which we enter is a vestibule or Galilee under the side towers and end of the nave. Compare Durham. It is of the age of Abbot Suger, but already exhibits pointed arches in the upper part. The architecture is solid and massive, but somewhat gloomy.
Descend a few steps into the nave, which is surrounded by single aisles, whose vaulting should be noticed. The architecture of this part, now pure early Gothic, is extremely lovely. The triforium is delicate and graceful. The windows in the clerestory above it, representing kings and queens, are almost all modern. Notice the great height of the nave, and the unusual extent to which the triforium and clerestory project above the noble vaulting of the aisles. Note that the triforium itself opens directly to the air, and is supplied with stained glass windows, seen through its arches. Sit awhile in this light and lofty nave, in order to take in the beautiful view up the church toward the choir and chevet.
Then walk up to the barrier near the transepts, where sit again, in order to observe the choir and transepts with the staircase which leads to the raised ambulatory. Observe that the transepts are simple. The ugly stained glass in the windows of their clerestory contains illustrations of the reign of Louis Philippe, with extremely unpicturesque costumes of the period. The trousers are unspeakable. The architecture of the nave and choir, with its light and airy arches and pillars, is of the later thirteenth century.
The reason for this is that Suger’s building was thoroughly restored from 1230 on-ward, in the pure pointed style of that best period. The upper part of the choir and the whole of the nave and transepts were then rebuilt, which accounts for the gracefulness and airiness of its architecture when contrasted with the dark and heavy vestibule of the age of Suger.
Note from this point the arrangement of the choir, which, to those who do not know Italy, will be quite unfamiliar. As at San Zeno in Verona, San Miniato in Florence, and many other Romanesque churches, the choir is raised by some steps above the nave and transepts; while the crypt is slightly depressed beneath them. In the crypt, in such cases, are the actual bodies of the saints buried there ; while the altar stands directly over their tombs in the choir above it.
Look every way from this point at the tombs within sight, at the choir and transepts, and at the steps of the ambulatory. Do not be in a hurry to enter. On the contrary, sit awhile longer in the body of the nave, outside the barrier, and read what follows.
The custodians hurry you so rapidly through the reserved part of the church that it will be well before entering the enclosure to glance through the succeeding notes, explanatory of what you are about to see. The remarks to be read as you go round the building I insert separately, in the briefest possible words, as aids to memory.
The tomb of Louis XII. (d. 1515) and his wife, Anne de Bretagne (d. 1514), is the earliest of the great Renaissance tombs in France, and the first in order in this basilica. Long believed to be of Italian workmanship, it is now known to be the production of Jean Juste of Tours, unknown otherwise, but supposed to be a Florentine. It is imitated from the Giangaleazzo Visconti, already mentioned, in the Certosa di Pavia. This tomb, the first you see, struck the keynote for such works of the Renaissance in France. It is a good and apparently French imitation of the Italian original, and it fitly marks Louis XII.’s place in the artistic movement. Remember his statue by Lorenzo da Mugiano in the Louvre, and his connection with Cardinal d’Amboise and the Château de Gaillon.
The next important monument is that of Dagobert I. (d. 638), the founder of the abbey, probably erected in his honour, as a sort of shrine, by St. Louis in the thirteenth century. In order to understand this tomb (which you are only allowed to see across the whole breadth of the choir), it is necessary to know the legend to which the mediæval sculptures on the canopy refer. When Dagobert died, demons tried to steal his soul ; but he was rescued by St. Denis, to whom he had built this abbey, assisted by St. Maurice and St. Mar-tin of Tours, a significant story, pointing the moral of how good a thing it is to found a monastery. The narrative is told in three stages, one above the other. (i) An anchorite, sleeping, is shown by St. Denis in a dream that the king’s soul is in danger ; to the right Dagobert stands in a little boat (like the boat of Charon) ; demons seize him and take off his crown. (2) The three saints come to the king’s rescue, attended by two angels, one swinging a censer, the other holding a vase of holy water ; St. Martin and St. Denis see the tortured soul ; the soldier St. Maurice, sword in hand, attacks the demons. (3) The three saints, attended by the angels, hold a sheet, on which the soul of Dagobert stands, praying. The hand of God appears in a glory above, to lift him into heaven. These are on the canopy ; beneath, on the tomb itself, lies a modern restored recumbent statue of Dagobert ; there are also erect figures of his son Sigebert (restored), and his queen, Nantilde (original).
The tomb of Henri II. (d. 1559) and his queen, Catherine de’ Médicis (d. 1589) -the third of any importance was executed by the great sculptor, Germain Pilon, during the lifetime of the latter. It was he, too, you will remember, who made the exquisite group of figures, now in the Louvre, to support the urn which was to contain their hearts. As in many contemporary tombs, the king and queen are represented alive and kneeling, in bronze, above, and nude and dead in marble on the tomb below. We saw a similar tomb at the Louvre. A second monument, close by, to the same king and queen, has recumbent marble figures on a bronze couch, Catherine is said in her devouter old age to have disapproved of the nudity of the figures on the first tomb, but as it was usual to distribute relics of French kings to various abbeys, such duplicate monuments were once common.
The tomb of Frédégonde (d. 597) from St. Germain-des-Prés, is a curious mosaic figure of marble and copper, almost unique in character. It is not of the queen’s own age, but was added to her shrine in the twelfth century. Most of these early kings and queens, founders and benefactors of monasteries, were either actually canonised or were treated as saints by the monks whom they had benefited ; and tombs in their honour were repaired or reedified after the Norman invasion and other misfortunes.
Two monuments of the children of St. Louis, from other abbeys, carried first to Lenoir’s Museum, are now in this basilica. They are of enamelled copper, with repoussé figures, executed at Limoges.
The most costly, though not to my mind the most beautiful, of the Renaissance tombs is that of François Ier (d. 1547). On the summit are kneeling figures of the king, his wife Claude, and their three children. The reliefs on the pedestal represent the battles of Marignano and Cerisole. This tomb, like that of Louis XII., is ultimately based on the Visconti monument in the Certosa, but it exhibits a much later and more refined development of French Renaissance sculpture than its predecessor. It is by Germain Pilon, Philibert Delorme, and (perhaps) Jean Goujon. The architectural plan is noble and severe ; but it lacks the more naïve beauty of Jean Juste’s workmanship.
It was the curious custom to treat the bodies of French kings (who, as royal, were almost sacred) much as the relics of the saints were treated. Hence the head and heart were often preserved separately and in different places from the body to which they belonged. François Ier himself was interred here ; but an urn to hold his heart was placed in the Abbaye des Hautes Bruyères, near Rambouillet. This urn is a fine Renaissance work by Pierre Bon-temps. Taken to Lenoir’s Musée des Monuments at the Revolution, it was afterward placed beside the king’s tomb in this basilica.
Look out in the apse for the altar of St. Denis and his fellow martyrs. Near it used once to hang the oriflamme, that very sacred banner which was only removed when a king of France took the field in person. It was last used at Agincourt. A reproduction now represents it.
The other monuments can be best observed by the brief notes given as we pass them. The arrangements for seeing them are quite as bad as those in our own cathedrals, and it is impossible to get near enough to examine them properly. Therefore, take your bearings from the nave before you enter, and try to under-stand the architecture of the choir as far as possible before you pass the barriers.
Disregard the remarks made by the guide, who expects a tip, and read these brief notes for yourself as you pass the objects.
Enter the enclosure. North aisle, on the left, several good medieval recumbent tombs, mostly from other abbeys, named on placards. Read them. Then, tombs of the family of St. Louis, recumbent, also named ; thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. **Tomb of Louis XII. and his wife, Anne de Bretagne, by Jean Juste of Tours. After the Certosa monument. Beneath, Twelve Apostles ; four allegorical figures of Virtues ; king and queen, in centre, recumbent ; above, on canopy, king and queen kneeling. On base, reliefs of his Italian victories. On the right, column commemorating Henri III., by Barthélemy Prieur.
Stand by steps leading to raised ambulatory, only point of view for ** tomb of Dagobert, on opposite: side of choir, thirteenth century. Leg-end of his soul, see above. Erect statues of Sigebert, his son, and Nantilde, his queen. Insist on time to view it with opera-glass.
On the left, tomb of Henri II. and Catherine de Médicis. King and queen recumbent, in marble, below ; kneeling, in bronze, above. At corners, the four cardinal virtues, bronze. Also after Certosa.
Ascend steps to ambulatory. Below, monuments of the Valois family. Above, to the left, second monument of Henri II. and Catherine de Médicis, recumbent marble on bronze mat-tress. Observe monograms of H and D, as on Louvre. Proceed round ambulatory. Chapels to the left have stained glass windows of twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Interesting subjects, which note in passing. ** Beautiful view across the church as you pass the transepts.
In the centre of the apse of the choir (above the tomb in crypt), is the altar of St. Denis, with his fellow martyrs, St. Rusticus and St. Eleutherius, modern imitation of the original shrine, broken at the Revolution. During the neuvaine (nine days after St. Denis’s day Oct. 9) the reliquaries are exposed in the nave, near the barrier. On one side of the altar is a reproduction of the oriflamme. Beyond this altar, continue along the south side of the ambulatory, to the sacristy. Modern paintings, here, relating to the history of the abbey. Labels beneath describe their subjects. Ad-joining it is the treasury, containing only uninteresting modern church utensils. Beyond the sacristy, tomb of Frédégonde, from St. Germain-des-Prés. Hands, feet, and face probably once painted.
Descend steps from ambulatory and descend to crypt. This, the oldest portion of the existing building, was erected by Suger, to contain the tombs of the three martyrs, buried under their altar. Its architecture is the most interesting of all in the basilica. Notice the quaint Romanesque capitals of the columns. In the centre, bones of the royal family, within the grating. Neglect them, and observe the arches.
In the crypt chapels, uninteresting modern statues (Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI., colossal figures for the monument of the Duc de Berry, etc.). Neglect these, also, and observe rather the architecture and good fragments of glass in windows, particularly a very naïve Roasting of St. Lawrence.
Return to church and notice the monument of Du Guesclin, 138o, that of Louis de Sancerre, 1402, and that of Renée de Longueville, from the Church of the Célestins, also Blanche and Jean, children of St. Louis, enamelled cop-per, Limoges ; from other abbeys.
** François Ier, his wife, Claude, and their three children, above. On pedestal, scenes from his battles ; high Renaissance work : Philibert Delorme, Germain Pilon, and Jean Goujon. More stately, but less interesting than Louis XII. ** Urn, to contain heart of François Ier, from the nunnery of Hautes Bruyères. Louis d’Orléans and Valentine of Milan, from the Church of the Célestins. Charles d’Étampes, 1336, with twenty-four small figures of saints.
Leave the enclosure and return to the church.
I advise you then to read this all over again, and, finally, go round a second time, to complete the picture.
The abbey and church are closely bound up at every turn with French history. In Dagobert’s building, in 754, Pope Stephen II., flying from the Lombards, consecrated Charlemagne and his brother Carloman. In the existing basilica, St. Louis took down the oriflamme to set forth on his crusade ; and Joan of Arc hung up her armour as a votive offering after the siege of Orleans. But indeed, St. Denis played an important part in all great ceremonials down to the Revolution, and its name occurs on every page of old French history.
On your return to Paris, you may find this a convenient moment to visit St. Vincent de Paul, which lies two minutes away from the Gare du Nord.
After visiting St. Denis, the reader will probably find it desirable to examine certain objects from the treasury of the basilica now preserved in the Louvre. They are mostly contained in the Galerie d’Apollon, in the glass case nearest the window which looks out upon the Seine. (Position of cases liable to alteration ; if not here, look out for it elsewhere in the same room.) The most important of these objects is an antique Egpytian vase in porphyry, which Abbot Suger had mounted in the twelfth century in a silver-gilt frame, as an eagle. It contains an inscription composed by the abbot in Latin hexameters, and implying that it was to be used for the service of the altar. Near it is an antique Roman sardonyx vase, also mounted as a jug, by Suger in the twelfth century, and from the same treasury : its inscription says, “I, Suger, offer this vase to the Lord.” Also, another in rock-crystal, which has been similarly treated ; it bears the name of Alienor d’Aquitaine. She gave it to Louis VIL, who passed it on to Suger : a twelfth century inscription on the base records these facts, as well as its dedication to Sts. Rusticus and Eleutherius. The same case contains a beautiful Carlovingian serpentine paten, which formed part of the treasure of Dagobert’s abbey. Observe, close by, the beautiful silver-gilt Madonna, characteristic French work of the fourteenth century, offered by Queen Jeanne d’Evreux to the Abbey of St. Denis, and bearing an easily deciphered inscription in old French. Note that the Madonna in this royal offering carries in her hand the fleur-de-lis of France. Compare this work mentally with the other early French Madonnas we have already observed in Mediaeval Sculpture Room.
Among other objects in this same case observe the curious double cross, with cover and lid to contain it, where the inscription above the head of the inner cross indicates the natural origin of the doubling. Close inspection of this object will explain to you many little points in others. Several similar crucifixions, with Ma-donna and St. John and attendant angels, are in the same room : compare them with it. To the right is a good relief of the Maries at the Sepulchre ; a double crucifix with St. John and the Madonna ; and a reliquary fashioned to con-tain the arm of St. Louis of Toulouse. Most of these objects are sufficiently explained by the labels : the antique inscriptions, sometimes in Greek, are easily legible. There is a beautiful view out of the window to the left.
The examination of this case will form a point of departure for the visitor who cares to examine the minor art works in the Galerie d’Apollon and other rooms of the Louvre. I have left them till now, for the sake of the peg on which to hang them. I will therefore note here, in this connection, one or two other things which may assist the reader in the examination of the remainder, leaving him, as usual, to fill in the details of the scheme by personal observation and comparison of objects.
Walk down the centre of the Galerie d’Apollon, on the side toward the windows, passing the tawdry crown jewels, and the many exquisite classical or Renaissance works in the cabinet beyond it, ‘all of which you can afterward ex-amine at your leisure. Some of the antique busts in precious stones come from abbey treasuries, where they were preserved and sanctified during the Middle Ages. But in the last case save one, observe, near the centre, a very quaint little figure of St. Lawrence, lying comfortably on his gridiron, and holding in his hands a tiny reliquary, almost as big as himself, a finger with a nail on it, intended for the reception of a bone of the saint’s own little finger. This odd little reliquary, French fourteenth century, when compared with that for the arm of St. Louis of Toulouse, will help you to understand many similar reliquaries, both here and elsewhere. The martyr is put there as a mode of signifying the fact, “This is a bone of St. Lawrence.” Above it, note again five charming crosiers, containing respectively representations of the Madonna enthroned, the Annunciation, the Coronation of the Virgin, again the Annunciation, and a decorative design of great beauty. Note their date and place of origin on the labels. When once your attention has been called to the occurrence of such definite scenes in similar objects, you will be able to recognise them at once for yourself in many like situations. In the Annunciation, to the left, observe once more the very odd way in which the usual lily is carefully obtruded between the angel Gabriel and Our Lady. Some obvious barrier between the two was demanded by orthodoxy ; here, the decorative device by which the difficulty has been surmounted is clever and effective. Between this crosier and that of the Coronation, look again at a queer little reliquary, held by the Madonna and Child, with a glass front for the exhibition of the relic. Another Madonna, close by to the left, similarly holds on her lap a charming little reliquary basin. The same case contains several coffers and reliquaries in champlevé enamel, the most interesting of which is the coffer of St. Louis, with decorative designs showing Romanesque tendencies. At the far end of the case, two charming silver-gilt angels, fourteenth century, also bearing reliquaries. Ex-amine in detail all the objects in this most interesting case. They will help, I hope, to throw light upon others which you will see elsewhere.
I do not intend to go at equal length through all the cases in this interesting room ; but your visit to St. Denis ought now to have put you in a fit frame of mind for comprehending the meaning of most of these works by the light of the hints already given. I will only therefore call special attention to the beautiful decorative box, containing a book of the Gospels, in French enamel work and jewelry of the eleventh century, in the last window on the right, before you reach the Rotonde d’Apollon. This valuable book cover is also from the abbey treasury of St. Denis. It exhibits the usual Crucifixion, with the Madonna and St. John, and the adoring angels, together with figures of the symbols of the Evangelists, whose names are here conveniently attached to them. The next case, to the right of this one, also contains champlevé enamels of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, all of which should similarly be examined. Note among them, to the extreme right in the case, a very quaint quatrefoil with St. Francis receiving the Stigmata ; a subject with which you will already be familiar from Giotto’s treatment, and whose adaptation here to a decorative purpose is curious and enlightening. Next to it, on the left, a Death of the Virgin. Farther on, two delicious little plaques one, of Abraham and Melchisedeck, with St. Luke (Abraham, as soldier, being attired in the knightly costume of the Bayeux tapestry); and the other of the Offering of Isaac, with St. Mark ; two of a series of the Evangelists with Old Testament subjects. Above these, the Emperor Heraclius killing Chosroes, with cherubim. Still higher, a most exquisite Adoration of the Magi. Also Christ in Glory, in a mandorla, with the symbols of the Evangelists ; and two closely similar Crucifixions, with a Madonna and St. John, and adoring angels. Compare these with the similar subject in the first case we visited. This frame also contains three charming saints in Byzantine style, a good St. Matthew, and a little King David holding a psalter. Do not leave one of the subjects in this window unidentified and unexamined.
I notice all these decorative treatments here, merely in order to suggest to the reader the way in which the knowledge he has gained of the fabric of St. Denis may be utilised to ex-amine works of art from the great abbey both here and at Cluny. You will find it useful to visit both collections on your return from such a church, in order to mentally replace in their proper surroundings works now divorced from it. Some other good objects from the same treasury may also be seen at the Bibliothèque Nationale.