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Monday, 24 August 2015

Carved Supraporte (overdoor) | A wooden decoration over a door | Supraporte Ornament | Family coat of arms incorporated into a supraporte

A Carved Supraporte | Supraporte ornament

Carved Supraporte 
(overdoor ornament)

 Family coat of arms incorporated into a supraporte

This blog entry is about the supraporte or overdoor ornament ( A decoration over a door) the various applications and techniques are discussed and also a short photo coverage  'the different stages of carving a supraporte' an assignment made for a  Swiss client in 2015. (Family coat of arms incorporated into a supraporte)

A supraporte or overdoor (Latin: supra=over; porta=door) is a decoration applied over a door or over a portal.
The term “decoration” is interpreted on a broad way. The decorations can be a painting, a fresco painted on the wall, a sculpture or a carved or plastered relief.
Sometimes the painting is made in “grisaille” style. That is, the 3D picture is in one color (black or brown) in different shades and is imitating sculptures in stone. A relief work, embossment, mostly to be found in the Rococo cartouche at the “supraporte”.
Embossment may also be found integrated with the lintel of the door frame.
 A supraporte in the form of a flat triangle is called tympanum. 

Carved overdoor ornament with painting

A supraporte could be found –taking into consideration the height of the ceiling- in a horizontal or in a vertical position. For example, the overdoor of an exterior door or portal can even reach to the roof.
A supraporte for an inside door is not only adapted to the height of the ceiling, but can incorporate work that also represents the origin of the owner of the respective room or the building in which it is located.
In the old times it was extremely important to show the social position of the owner, and the supraporte was a good way to show it. 

The (self) glorification of the owner/resident could show his/her monogram or the family coat of arms, being the central role in the entire composition of the ornaments of the supraporte.
In de Palace of Versailles you could find several rooms that have the crossed L of Louis XIV or the three lilies of France, a glorification of the country and of the king. 

Supraporte with Painting

The decorations and ornaments of a (wooden) supraporte may be use in a different way. A door trim for a music room (some rich people has it), could be decorated with musical instruments. The same theme can also be incorporated in the over door, design that every visitor could instantly identify the function of the room.

Other government or secular buildings with their own and specific function, demonstrate again their own importance with the use of the supraporte. So the glorification or function will be shown in a central cartouche. 
For example, through the use of attributes in a trophy, like “law”, “science”, “army”, the supraporte works as a way to make emphasis and to be the focal point; the visitor will be aware where he is standing. 

 Coat of arms incorporated into a supraporte

Château de Versailles | A decoration above a door

Worship buildings have –of course- other themes; so there are religious images in bas relief carved, locating or not in an oval cartouche.
But there are also trophies with religious attributes, such as the following:  candles, candlesticks, chalices, bibles, censers… which are a central focal point in the composition.

In each style period, from the Renaissance you can find the use of the over door. Usually in castles and residences, and later in major civil houses and government buildings; but always adapted to the mentality and way of decoration and ornaments. 
For this reason, the decorations vary from country to country, and have its own characteristics.
Nowadays, it is possible to find a supraporte with a family photo, a religious sign or paintings; unconsciously connecting you to an ancient tradition of over doors. In that case, it is not functional but decorative in nature.   

Supraporte - overdoor  with ornaments (Bamberg Residence)
Versailles | A supraporte in stone | Bas Relief with putti and attributes war 'theme'


In 2015 I had the honor to carve several supraportes. These upper pieces were made of oak wood and created in a vertical constructional and decorative part for a number of doors. This beautiful project was done for a private residence in Switzerland.

The central motif in these over doors represents the coat of arms of my client. The following picture will give you a short impression, “the stages of the process” of this commission.

Translation, Lis Alvarado

The carving of a supraporte in white oak.

Supraporte | Carving a wooden supraporte | Craftsmanship

Carving a wooden supraporte | Overdoor ornament

 Family coat of arms incorporated into a supraporte

A overdoor ornament | Carved supraporte

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