West gallery of the cloister, Moissac





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.

Left: southwest pier with Matthew; center; southwest pier with Bartholomew; right: the west corridor from the north

 

Left: an unidentified capital; center: a foliate capital with interlace on the abacus; right: in each face a central dove with wings held by standing lions.

 

Pier with St. Simon

Like many of the pier figures, Simon's feet are widely splayed and don't quite engage the ground. He is even more bow-legged than the others, however.
 

Left: Symbolic capital with the Damned; center: foliate capital with palms; right: symbolic capital with the Devil Unchained

While the foliate capital is more usual in the cloister, symbolic capitals are more rare and puzzling. The "Dammed" capital depicts on each face a nude human figure holding the wings of a grotesque animal in both of his outstretched arms. These animals have wings and tails which wrap around the humans. According to Stones, on the north and south faces of the "Devil" capital, there are "crouched figures with naked, human-like bodies and monstrous heads. They pull open bows with their hands and feet, and hold the tips of arrows in their mouths" (URL here).
 

Annunciation to the Shepherds

On this south face an angel (identified in the plaque at the top center) speaks to the shepherd in the center. This shepherd holds a staff with an animal at its base--the shepherd's dog?
On the left are animals--a donkey and two cows, both also with identifying inscriptions. Like most of the capitals, this capital does not depict recession in space; the animals don't even overlap--to indicate distance, but are stacked on top of each other. There are no sheep although the short face of the capital depicts goats with identifying inscriptions.
 

Foliate capital with doves and crouching lions on the abacus; foliate capital with palm fronds

 

Symbolic capital--The Triumph of the Cross

The south face depicts a cross with fabric (?) behind it, perhaps to suggest it sacred quality (like a humeral). Angels support the cross (although it seems to have a tripod-like base as well); the cross has a medallion in the center with the letters X and P, for Christ. The cross seems to be decorated with jewels and perhaps some kind of gold engraving.
 

Abraham and Isaac

On the south face Isaac is on an altar while Abraham on the left is ready to slay him (carrying wood or a very large knife?). The angel of the Lord arrives from the right to deter him.


Return to page 1, north 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. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.