Student Docents Reflect on Artworks in UMMA’s Collection
Embellished capitals, such as the one pictured, became increasingly commonplace in Western European churches starting in the early Romanesque period (ca. 7th c. CE). Since most architectural projects were under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church, many capitals contained religious themes to promote further devotion and religiosity amongst those worshiping. Some capitals, however, such as the one pictured, were artistic pieces in and of themselves, featuring ornate vines, leaves, and rosettes.
Similar artistry would be found in contemporary illuminated manuscripts, usually featured on the margins and in capital letters as in UMMA’s manuscript page shown here. This kind of ornate stonework would become increasingly complex and decorative as the Romanesque grew into the Gothic starting with Abbot Suger’s innovations at Saint-Denis in the mid-12th c.
By Christopher Hunt
top: Anonymous French Artist, Engaged capital with vine rinceau, palmette leaves, and rosettes, 1100-1125, Sandstone. Languedoc, France. Museum Purchase, 1982/1.273
bottom: Anonymous French (Normandy), Priest Celebrating a Mass (Leaf from the Tarleton Hours), French, ca. 1430, ink, tempera and gold on thin parchment. Museum Purchase, 1968/2.43