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Elizabeth C. Parker

Double-sided Latin cross (h. 577 mm, New York, Cloisters, 63.12) that is a masterpiece of Romanesque carving in walrus ivory. Its history is unknown before the 1950s, when it belonged to the art dealer Ante Topic-Mimara of Zagreb, formerly in Yugoslavia, from whom it was acquired for The Cloisters Collection by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1963. It is in excellent condition with the exception of the irregular break at the bottom of the shaft and the complete loss of the bottom terminal. These suggest wear caused from using different holders if it functioned both as a processional and an altar cross. Holes on the lower shaft and cross arm also suggest there was originally a corpus attached, despite the marked projection of the central roundel.

Some 99 figures and 66 biblical inscriptions in Latin enhance the unusually complex iconography of the cross. The obverse, characterized as the Tree of Life by truncated branches on the shaft and cross arms, depicts ...

Article

(CRSBI)

International organization dedicated to the recording and documentation of all known examples of Romanesque sculpture in Britain and Ireland. The organization was the brainchild of George Zarnecki, scholar of Romanesque art and former Deputy Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art. His aim was to develop a photographic and scholarly archive in which every known example of Romanesque sculpture in Britain and Ireland would be recorded for posterity. In 1988 Zarencki and Neil Stratford (Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities, British Museum) submitted a proposal for funding and support to the British Academy which was successful and the project has been under the remit of that organization since.

Under the guidance of scholars, a team of volunteers track down examples of Romanesque sculpture and measure, describe, and photograph the works before they are eventually made available on the internet with a full bibliography. The project has been directed by Peter Lasko...

Article

Le Puy  

Walter Cahn

French city in Haute-Loire. Best known for its Romanesque sculpture, surviving work includes the cathedral of Notre-Dame with its baptistery and cloister, the chapels of St Clair and St Michel d’Aiguilhe, and the church of St Martin, Polignac. The cathedral, an imposing structure with a rectangular choir, projecting transept, and aisled nave of six bays, dominates the city. St Michel d’Aiguilhe, which stands on a volcanic peak near by, has a square core, with apses on three sides, that was enlarged in the Romanesque period with an irregularly shaped ambulatory and short nave. St Clair, located within the precinct of the former hospice of St Nicolas, in the same suburb, is an octagonal chapel with a semicircular eastern apse. The parish church of St Martin, Polignac, situated some 6 km north-west of Le Puy, was originally a dependency of Pébrac Abbey. Four bays of the Romanesque nave remain, terminated by a choir with triple apses. Fragments of sculpture found along the perimeter of the cathedral, which derive from other no longer identifiable structures, are preserved in the Musée Crozatier. The most common material is a local variety of soft-grained sandstone, which resists erosion poorly, with the occasional use of a local basalt. The study of the development of this sculpture is impeded by the virtual absence of secure documentary evidence and the substantial alterations to the appearance and fabric of the buildings made during the extensive 19th-century restorations....

Article

Christine Verzar

[Niccolò; Nicolaus; Nicolò]

(fl c. 1106–40).

Italian sculptor. His career can be reconstructed more accurately than that of most Romanesque sculptors because of the survival of signed inscriptions on four monuments in northern Italy, at the Sagra di S Michele, near Turin, the cathedrals of Ferrara and Verona, and S Zeno Maggiore, Verona. His earliest commissions may be represented by the capitals of the porch of S Eufemia, Piacenza (c. 1106), and the south portal of Piacenza Cathedral (from c. 1122). The latter is attributed to him on the grounds of a moralizing inscription identical to that bearing his name at the Sagra di S Michele, his earliest signed work (c. 1114–20), with which the sculpture is also comparable in style. Both at the Sagra and at Piacenza Nicholaus seems to have worked alongside Lombard masters of the so-called corrente comasca (De Francovich).

By 1135 he was at work on the ...

Article

Antonio Caleca

[Roberto]

(fl c. mid-12th century).

Italian sculptor. The important holy-water stoup, in S Frediano, Lucca, bears the signature Me fecit Robertus magister in arte peritus, followed by an illegible date. The stoup consists of a circular basin decorated on the outside with scenes from the Life of Moses, and seven Allegorical Figures representing the planets. The water flows from a central basin, the cover of which is decorated with representations of the Months and the Apostles. The Robertus who signed this work is otherwise unknown; the identification with Magister Robertinus (fl 1177), a lesser artist documented in Lucca, is untenable. Robertus’s work may be associated with the renovation and enlargement of the decoration of S Frediano, carried out in 1147–54. It is also paralleled in the decoration of the pilasters of the portico of S Martino in Lucca, also of controversial date but probably from the mid-century. Moreover, the sculptor Biduino, active in the late 12th century, clearly knew the work of Robertus....

Article

Ronald Alley

(b Rodez, Aveyron, Dec 24, 1919).

French painter, printmaker and sculptor. He was greatly impressed as a boy by the Celtic carvings (incised menhirs and graffiti) in the museum at Rodez and by the architecture and sculpture of the Romanesque abbey of Ste-Foy at Conques. In 1938 he went to Paris for the first time, where he visited the Louvre and saw exhibitions of Cézanne and Picasso. With the intention of training to be a drawing teacher, he enrolled in a studio in Paris but was encouraged instead to enter the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts; he was, however, bitterly disappointed by what was being taught there, which seemed to fall far short of what he had just seen, and returned to Rodez. The paintings he was making at this time were of trees in winter, without their leaves, with the black branches forming a tracery against the sky. He was called up in 1941 but demobilized almost at once. He moved to Montpellier to continue his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts there but spent most of the war working clandestinely on a farm in the Montpellier area to avoid forced labour in Germany. He was able to do very little painting during the Occupation, but he became aware of abstract art through his friendship with Sonia Delaunay, whom he met ...

Article

Harriet Sonne de Torrens

Wooden statue (h. 680 mm; Stockholm, Stat. Hist. Mus.) made c. 1170–80. The elegant proportions of the Viklau Madonna mark the transition of Scandinavian art from the northern Romanesque period to the Gothic style. Roosval (1925) was the first to draw attention to the similarities between the slender proportions of the Viklau Madonna and the columnar figures ornamenting the portals of the Chartres Cathedral (see Chartres). The refined and sensitive facial features set it apart from earlier works and firmly align this wooden statue with the new emerging Gothic style in western Europe.

Originally from the parish church of Viklau on the Swedish island of Gotland, the enthroned figure of the Virgin (the figure of the Christ Child has long been missing), has been in the Statens Historiska Museum in Stockholm since 1928. The diminutive size of the figure suggests that it might once have stood on an altar or formed part of a larger, wooden altarpiece. The fact that it is small in scale, carved from wood, painted and gilded, suggests it was portable and probably used in different locations....