A large plaster caste of the entrance to an abbey

The Façade of St. Gilles in Carnegie Museum of Art's Hall of Architecture. Photo: Bryan Conley

Crash Course: The Façade of St. Gilles


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CMOA’s Hall of Architecture is home to the largest architectural plaster cast in the world—the West Portal of St.-Gilles-du-Gard. The massive 87-foot-wide and 38-foot high cast was painstakingly made directly from the original abbey located in the south of France. The abbey was considered one of the greatest examples of Romanesque architecture by the architects who consulted on the Hall of Architecture cast collection which opened in 1907. This class examines the history of the original 12-century abbey, the surrounding region, and the abbey’s importance as a stop on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain; the program of imagery including the Passion of Christ that unfolds across the entire length of the cast; and the plaster process used to create this and other casts in the collection. CMOA’s cast collection is the largest in North America and one of three remaining in the world along with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of French Monuments at the Trocadero in Paris.

Support for senior programming is generously provided by The Campbell Foundation.

About Crash Course

Crash Course is an ongoing series of topic-specific art history courses hosted by Carnegie Museum of Art. Past courses have focused on artists' depictions of urban industry, Renaissance and Baroque art, and many others.