South gallery of the cloister, Moissac

A mere sampling--I neglected to take photos of a number of the capitals in this 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.

Pier with St. Peter (I do not have a photograph of St. Paul, also at this corner.)

Peter carries a book and two keys, his usual symbol. His wrist is twisted in an impossible position but the sculptor always shows the hands in a full position (not from the side). He is wearing sandals and an elaborate hairstyle--with parallel rows of waves/curls ending in curly fringe around his forehead.

Vision of St. John the Evangelist

The east face depicts a figure on horseback. The figure has both wings and a halo. The abacus has grotesque animals--birds with long necks?--intertwined.

An intermediate pier decorated with foliate motifs


Left: the Stoning of St Stephen; center: foliate capital with birds and Celtic-like interlace on the abacus; right: Symbolic capital--"Mighty Babylon," identified by inscriptions on the capital

This face (east) does not depict the actual martyrdom of Stephen; the central haloed figure is thought to be St. Stephen, perhaps prophesying his own death with figures flanking him raising their arms in amazement. The symbolic capital depicts Babylon, for Christians equated with evil. The walls and towers of the city are represented on all the faces of the capital with figures behind the walls.

Capital with birds in tree branches

This foliate capital has tree trunks at the angles which branch into limbs on which the birds sit; the abacus has double-headed birds in a repeated pattern with open wings.

The Beheading of John the Baptist

This face of the Baptist capital depicts two scenes. In the center a rather unsexy Salome dances with hand upraised. A later scene is depicted on the left. Herod, wearing a large crown and holding a scepter (?), sits at a table with the bearded head of the Baptist on a plate.

Continue to page 1, west gallery of the cloister.

Works Consulted or Quoted:
Meyer Schapiro. The Sculpture of Moissac. NY: Braziller, 1985.
M. Alison Stones. Extensive medieval website.

Go to Moissac Index.

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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.