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SOLESMES, a village of western France on the left bank of the Sarthe in the department of Sarthe, 29 m. W.S.W. of Le Mans by road. In 1010 a priory was founded at Solesmes and placed under the authority of the abbey of La Couture of Le Mans. Suppressed at the revolution, it was established as a Benedictine monastery in 1830. In 1837 it was raised to the rank of abbey and became a centre of learning,- the music here was also famous. A nunnery was afterwards founded beside it, but both institutions were abandoned after the passing of the associations law in 1901. The monastery, rebuilt at the end of the ipth century, forms a lofty mass of buildings on the river bank. Its church (13th and 16th centuries) is interesting only for the possession of two masterpieces of sculpture of uncertain authorship, executed approximately between 1490 and 1550. The most sl,riking represents the burial of Christ and is sheltered by a stone structure, the front of which is beautifully carved. An arched opening in this front reveals the central group of eight figures surrounding the tomb, that of Mary Magdalen in the foreground being remarkably lifelike and expressive. The other work similarly enclosed represents the burial of the Virgin and is the later of the two in date and in the pure Renaissance style. Sculptures representing Jesus among the Doctors and other scenes are also in the church.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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