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Art & Design

French, Romanesque Capital, early 1100s, Museum Appropriation Fund

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gallery location RA518.European9

Romanesque Capital

Unknown artist, French
Romanesque Capital, early 1100s
52.1 x 55.9 cm (20 1/2 x 22 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 40.166

This capital is carved on only three sides. It was made for the top of a column that was embedded in a wall. Its decorative components are predominantly elements of foliage, derived from capitals of the Corinthian type. Its simplified acanthus leaves are arranged in two layers, the lower of which forms a smooth collar. The surging leaf-forms of the second tier support curved volutes that in turn carry a flat tablet. A medieval twist to this classical format may be seen in the three carved heads that emerge from the pairs of upright leaves. The faces of two young men peer from the sides, while the front is dominated by a larger, bearded head with wide, deeply drilled eyes. Human figures sometimes served a symbolic or narrative purpose on church capitals, but these heads give no indication of specific meaning and may merely serve to enliven the sculptural decoration.

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