North gallery of the cloister, Moissac--page 2 (of two pages on the north gallery)

Note please: the images of the capitals and piers of the cloister are arranged in clockwise order from the northwest corner. The order of the galleries is thus: north, east, south, and west.

The north gallery looking across south to the nave of the Church of St. Pierre.

The two capitals are below--the Dove capital and the capital with the Evangelists' symbols.

A dove capital

Several capitals depicts birds. Here the doves face toward the angle of the capital while the abacus also has reclining birds with intertwined necks.

The capital of the Four Symbols of the Evangelists

This capital depicts on each of its faces one of the four evangelists' symbols. On the left is depicted either the symbol for Matthew (the angel or man) or Mark (since the face has been mutilated, it could have been a lion), while the center image depicts the ox, symbol for Luke.
These faces of the capital illustrate the importance of symmetry to the sculptor, even to filling the space on both sides of the figure with over-large wings.

Center: foliate capital; right: The cross enters Jerusalem

The foliate capital, with a network of intertwined vines and leaves as well as the shallow carving, is reminiscent of Moslem ivory carvings, which also inspired the pseudo-inscriptions (fake Kufic script) on the abacus (official guidebook 10). Schapiro identifies the right capital as a Crusader's capital; it depicts an angel, carrying a cross outside the city of Jerusalem, represented by a domed building.

Historiated capital with an event from the life of Daniel (his imprisonment with the lions is on another face of the capital--not shown here); the pier in the center of the gallery

Based on a story in an apocryphal text, Habakkuk is urged by the angel, who pulls on his hair, to take food to Daniel who is imprisoned in the lion's den. Habakkuk carries pails of food hanging from the yoke at his neck. The figures here, like those depicted in most of the capitals, are disproportionate, with short stocky bodies and unusually large heads.

Calling of the Apostles and Draught of Fish

On the left--the east face depicts three men in a boat, all raising right hands and the two on each end hold oars; center--the west face shows two men drawing a net into a boat; right--the north face depicts Jesus and followers. The abacus has fantastic winged animals with intertwined tails.

Celestial Choir

A frontal angel stands on each face with wings expanded and carrying a book. Inscriptions identify them as Michael, Gabriel, a cherubim and seraphim.

A foliate capital and another Dove capital

The abacus of the foliate capital has a saddled horse and a stag facing off. The dove capital is similar to the capital depicted at the top of this page. The abacus, however, is different with intertwined doves and vines.

Continue to page 1, east gallery of the cloister.

Works Consulted or Quoted:
Maurice Scellès. Visiting Moissac Abbey. Éditions Sud Ouest, 2000.
Meyer Schapiro. The Sculpture of Moissac. NY: Braziller, 1985.
M. Alison Stones. Extensive medieval website.

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© 2007 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.