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mail: Bill Thayer 
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Architect's Sketch


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On one of the massive piers on the N side of the nave, a shallow incised diagram of the rose window of the church's façade; the pencil highlighting is modern.

What you see here is hard to photograph and show online as well as it deserves, but it gets its own webpage on my site because it's very rare.

Short of a hoax or amusement of some later time (most unlikely in a sacred building that has almost certainly been in continuous use since it was built in the 12c), the diagram, cut about 2 millimeters into the wall surface after the blocks had been assembled, dates to the construction of the church. It is a faithful sketch of the main particulars of the rose window, and must have served one or both of the following purposes:

I like to imagine both. After being grilled by the Board of Directors — the abbot, his chief financial officer, and the director of the liturgy for sure, and maybe the entire community of the brethren sitting on the floor in front of them — and winning their approval, someone may have said: "No don't paint it over quite right yet; why don't we leave this up for the workers?"

In either case, the diagram you see, which by the way I was told was full-scale 1:1 although I'm not betting the house on it, is an architect's sketch, at least 800 years old, and thus one of the oldest in central Italy. It's the first one I've seen anywhere; I understand there are quite a few similar sketches in N France.


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Page updated: 12 Jul 04