chapter  7
22 Pages

Romanesque Sculpture and Painting

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

It is difficult to comprehend the total significance of Romanesque sculpture and painting and their meaning and function for the peoples of the Middle Ages. Romanesque sculpture is located on exterior portals such as Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, on inner narthex portals as at Vézelay, on piers in the cloisters of Moissac and Arles, or on capitals in many parts of the monastery. Most Romanesque sculpture is an integral part of the structure of the building. Instead of being applied or attached to the bearing wall as in Greek, Roman, or Renaissance architecture, the sculptural blocks are structural. The largest exterior ensemble of Romanesque sculpture is the façade of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard on the edge of Provence. The depiction of the Crucifixion, a rare subject in Romanesque sculpture, and the prominence accorded the Last Supper reflect possibly the strong stand taken by the monastery against an heretical group led by Peter of Bruys, who had denied the validity of the Mass.