The Developed Style in Champagne

Within the Champagne region, several examples of bronze torcs are decorated in a style that echoes some of the themes of the Waldalgesheim or Vegetal Style. Despite some uncertainties regarding provenance of certain finds, Kruta and Roualet (1982) were able to demonstrate that at least three graves from Beine-l'Argentelle and Beine-Montequeux have reliable associations with brooches derived from the so-called Duchcov (German Dux) and M√ľnsingen types. The Vegetal Style, in Reinecke's terminology belonging to the first half of La Tene B, would equate with La Tene ancienne II (or more specifically IIb) in the Hatt and Roualet scheme of 1977, in absolute terms spanning much of the fourth century bc. The principal types of torc are already current in phase IIb, including conical and cylindrical buffer varieties, and a more elaborate form with open-work appendages. The classic form of brooch of this phase is the Dux type. Bracelets include a serpentiform type that continues into the ensuing phase. Some simple curvilinear motifs in relief appear at this period, but it is not until the La Tene Ancienne IIIa phase, dated by Kruta and Roualet to the end of the fourth century or the early third century bc, that the Marnian torcs display more complex curvilinear designs. Two distinct types of torc can be distinguished, one a buffer-ended variety in which the buffers were commonly decorated with simple tendril or S-chains, the other having conical terminals ornamented with axially-symmetrical tendril designs. There is no indication that these are archaeologically distinct in dating or distribution, and we may therefore infer that they reflect some other difference in social fashion or symbolic significance; their similarities in ornament certainly suggest that they were the product of a local school or even of a single workshop. The example from Jonchery-sur-Suippes (Figure 4.7, 2) and the unprovenanced pair in the museum at Nancy show the classic motifs of the developed style, tendrils flowing into curved triangles, sometimes opposed in a balanced fan-like device, peltae, fan-like finials, and palmette-derivatives, used particularly to terminate the elongated triangular field of ornament. The compressed nature of the composition lends to it an appearance of asymmetry. In fact, in extended form the design would be very similar to that on the bracelet from Caurel in the Marne (Figure 4.7, 4) in which swelling leaf-tendrils lead into peltate fans with side tendrils in a wholly symmetrical composition. One further detail should be noted on the torc from Beine-l'Argentelle (Fig. 25, 1). Within the end leaf of the terminal palmette are depicted eyes nose and mouth of a small face-mask. Pin-prick faces like this are known elsewhere in the region, at Rouillerot in the Aube, for example. But human features are even more clearly depicted on the bronze torcs from Courtisols (Figure 4.7, 3) and Witry-les-Reims in the Marne; the former is particularly remarkable since the design comprises a series of intertwined faces, some mask-like in the earlier La Tene tradition, others with features, including nose, mouth and chin more fully developed.

With the skilful use of the cire perdue technique to render ornament on torcs and bracelets, it is apparent that it is hard to draw a clear distinction between the relief styles of the Waldalgesheim or Vegetal tradition and the more pronounced relief ornaments, developing some of the same basic motifs, of Jacobsthal's later Plastic Style, which will be the subject of a later chapter.

The dominance of torcs and bracelets, together with brooches, in any discussion of the developed phase of early La Tene Celtic art in the Champagne should not detract from the importance of the ceramic art of this period (Corradini, 1991). Painted pottery was characteristic of funerary ceramics in the Marne from La Tene ancienne I (Roualet, 1991; Charpy, 1991; Desenne, 2003), but by the fourth and early third centuries exotic painted curvilinear designs are found on vessels from the Champagne

Figure 4.7 Torcs and arm-ring from the Marne region. 1, Beine T Argen telle', gr. 6; 2, Jonchery-sur-Suippes; 3, Courtisols; 4, Caurel 'Mont de la Fourche' gr. 380. Adapted from Kruta and Roualet (1982) and Stead and Rigby (1999).

and Ardennes that translate into ceramics some of the principal themes of metal-work ornament (Figure 4.8). Unlike the angular-profiled pottery from the Champagne, the finer pedestal vases are wheel-thrown. Their designs are painted in red and black (or dark red), and include scrolls, tendrils, yin-yangs and even triskeles that would be familiar to the metal-worker, though not of course in low relief. The Prunay ('Le Champ la Guerre') vase is instructive, since it shows a greater degree of symmetry than is normal in this series of vases. Its uppermost panel comprises a geometric key design in black on red, matched by the lowest panel, a wavy line similarly in black on a red ground. In the main central panel the principal motif is in red on a black ground. It comprises a repeating double scroll, linked by yin-yang whorls, in which the lower element is an inverted and reversed image of the upper. Some of these ornamental motifs are shared with the pedestal vase from Caurel, but more significantly it is the detailed proportions of the two vessels that confirm that they must have been products of the same workshop (Stead and Rigby, 1999, 49).

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