The harmonious Romanesque architecture of the church in Le Dorat is enhanced by its 100 sculpted capitals. There is a series of small limestone capitals grouped up in the choir and transept. They are quite similar to a very dynamic sculpting style that developed in southern Limousin in in the 12th century. Similar works can be found between the rivers Vézère and the Auvézère, mainly in Corrèze but also in Dordogne and Haute-Vienne.
Transporting limestone was rather costly and thus its presence here was quite prestigious. Its pale shade amidst a granite building allowed for lovely polychrome effects. You might also notice that there are several unsculpted capitals made of serpentine, a green and polished type of stone which resembles marble. They highlight the western portal and the transept’s great windows.
However, the majority of Le Dorat’s capitals are made of granite : these massive sculptures with contrasting reliefs show just how skilled their sculptors were, when you consider how constraining it is to sculpt granite.
There are many leaf patterns which come in various forms. Palmettes and rinceaux are subtly intertwined, and you can see lions and men here and there. Lions patterns were commonly used in the 12th century. They were used to symbolize Christ, yet sometimes they were simply decorative.
This sculpture of a man surrounded by two lions can be seen in two locations in the transept’s northern chapel. Perhaps it refers to the story Daniel and the Lions, in the Bible. There is an almost identical capital in Corrèze, in the church in the town of Saint Robert.
On this other capital, one of the lion’s paws is lovingly placed upon the shoulder of a clergyman.
You can also see hellish scenes such as two monsters being swallowed by a third monster, its jaws wide open, an acrobat whose feet are being devoured, and a man standing between two demons.
From the church to the Bergere Door
- 3. The collegiate church and its homogenous architecture
- 4. Sculpted capitals
- 5. Israel and Theobald
The collegiate church is decorated with remarkable Romanesque sculpted capitals, which you can see up close in this video.