Poncé-sur-le-Loir

Ponce sur le Loir

THE CHURCH

Practically nothing is known about medieval history of what is now a parish church of St. Julian in the village of Poncé-sur-le-Loir, except that it belonged to the canons of Le Mans. The remarkable program of mural paintings dates, in all probability, from the third quarter of the twelfth century. In additional to the cycle of three images dedicated to crusades, the program contains five other narratives cycles, a large-scale representation of the Last Judgment and a number of disparate scenes.

CRUSADER IMAGERY

The three images dedicated to the crusades were intended to be read from right to left (from East to West). (1) On the first image, there is a representation of a battle between crusaders, on the left, and Muslims, one of whom is already lying dead on the ground, on the right. The form of the armor clearly distinguishes Saracens from crusaders: Saracens carry round shields and have flat helmets, while crusaders bear oval shields and wear pointed helmets.

Ponce 2

(2) The second image is equally that of a battle between crusaders, on the left, and Muslims, on the right. A major difference in comparison to the first image is that the Christian warriors have halos, which identifies them as saints. Also, in contrast to the first image, where the victor of the battle is not apparent, the second one shows several Muslims turning their horses and beginning to flee. In all probability, this is the same subject as at Hardham, Fordington and Damerham: the Battle of Antioch of 1098.

Ponce Antioch

(3) The subject of the third image is unclear, but the most likely hypothesis is that it represents victorious crusaders.

ACCESS

The village of Poncé-sur-le-Loir is located on what used to be a frontier between the counties of Maine and Vendôme and is now in the Sarthe department of the region of Pays-de-la-Loire. It is about 40 km (25 miles) from Le Mans.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lapina, Elizabeth. “La représentation de la bataille d’Antioche (1098) sur les peintures murales de Poncé-sur-le-Loir”, Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, 52 (2009): 137-157. (Ponce PDF)

Davy, Chrisitan. “Espace architectural et espace liturgique dans l’Ouest de la France : les cas d’Asnières-sur-Vègre, de Poncé-sur-le-Loir et de Château-Gontier.” In Thomas Dale, ed., Shaping Sacred Space and Institutional Identity in Romanesque Mural Painting,  51-66. London, 2004.

Davy, Christian,   On the program of Poncé see, above all, Ch. Davy, La peinture murale romane dans les Pays de la Loire. L’indicible et le ruban plissé. Laval, 1999.

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