Corbel depicting two hands holding a barrel
French, Corbel depicting two hands holding a barrel, ca. 1175-1200, Stone; 41.3 x 19.1 x 18.1 cm (16 3/16 x 7 1/2 x 7 1/8 inches), Jesse Metcalf Fund and Museum Works of Art Fund 51.316
This stone corbel was one of a series that supported a cornice above the main portal of a church and also served a narrative purpose. Two delicately carved hands emerge from wide sleeves of a monastic robe. They hold an iron-bound cask with a large spout at the top that is suspended from a hook carved into the edge of the corbel. For both the religious and lay members of the agricultural community who prayed at this church, the barrel could have represented the bounty of a good harvest and the pleasures of drinking wine at meals, or served as a warning against overindulgence and intemperance.