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« De la métonymie à la scène narrative »  


The publication of the catalogue raisonné of the collection of seals in the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque nationale de France provided the occasion to unearth a certain number of exceptional medieval seal matrixes, like those used by the Abbaye du Saint-Sépulcre in Cambrai during the 12th and 13th centuries. This article provides the occasion for a fresh look at these objetcs, which until now had not been studied for their iconographical and stylistic interest. Thanks to a manuscript, realized in 1740 by a monk from Saint-Sépulcre, which is today in the collection of the Bibliothèque municipale de Douai, it is possible to accurately identify the seals used by the establishment. Thus it is known that the abbey successively used four seals, all dedicated to the scene of the Resurrection. However, while on the first two large seals, realized in the 12th century, the scene is reduced to a metonymy of the episode of the visit of the Holy Women on the morning of Easter through three key elements : the empty tomb, the angel and his gesture, on the two seals engraved during the next century, the narrative scene is much more developed. Christ steps out of the tomb, while in the lower part the soldiers can be seen sleeping. The matrixes of the Saint-Sépulcre also provide the opportunity to return to two major problematic concerns of the study of seals : falsification and re-engraving.


A. Vilain-de Bruyne et I. Villela-Petit, « De la métonymie à la scène narrative : les sceaux du Saint-Sépulcre de Cambrai (XIIe-XIIIe siècles) », dans la Revue de l’Art, n° 183, 2014, p. 19-28.

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