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A little history of Notre-Dame church in Bordeaux

The façade | Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) / CC-BY-SA
Parish church Notre-Dame church in Bordeaux

A Baroque church

So, this is the old Dominican church: the primitive one dates back to the 13th century: at that time, monks founded their monastery.

The current church was raised between 1684 and 1707 by Dominican brother Jean Maupeau.

He was a monk, but also a genius architect! Architect and royal engineer Pierre Michel, lord of the Plessis, helped him.

Maupeau died in 1693, so brother Jean Fontaine immediately replaced him. In 1700, they started with the vaults, completed in 1707.

Then, the façade: oh, what a beauty, with all those details! They call this style "Baroque Jesuit style": a blend of trompe l’œil, perspective effect, bright colours and volutes...

They often compared this façade with the Gesu church, in Rome: it’s divided in 2 parts, with 2 orders; the door is framed by statues made in 1865 by sculptor Prévôt.

We can see saints Ambroise, Gregory, Jérôme, Augustin. Above the entrance, we have a low-relief flanks by the Virgin apparition to saint Dominic: she gives him the rosary... that’s why they called the square place du Chapelet!

We have 4 medallions too: Albert the Great, teacher in Paris University; popes Pius V and Benedict XI, Italian archbishop saint Antonin.

Don’t forget the little angels, as light as the fresh air, holding a cross, a chandelier... Now, come on, let’s go inside: the church has one and only nave, lateral chapels, an apse but no transept... like the Gesu church!

A nice decoration

The inner decoration is simply gorgeous. Do you see this beautiful marble altar, with all those angels everywhere? Oh, they are just flying in a rustle of wings...

Tradition often says that artists as Fragonard or Boucher (18th century) made this altar... or maybe Guillaume Coustou, who also made the nice statue of Saint-François-Xavier (1744) in Saint-Paul church?

Besides, we have nice things to discover: the wooden and red marble throne (18th c.), made by a man called brother Thomas.

A Dominican brother, Jean André, from Paris, also made 10 paintings for the church, ordered between 1712 and 1741: André learned in Italy, with popes official painter, Carlo Maratta.

And what about this gorgeous iron gate, in the choir, made in 1780 by Moreau, a locksmith from Bordeaux?

We can see on it panels flanked by 4 portraits of the Evangelists, hanging with Pompadour ribbons. Above, a cross and musical instruments.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!