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Console with bird in vine scroll, rinceau, and angel


Artwork Details

Console with bird in vine scroll, rinceau, and angel
18 x 38 1/8 x 15 1/2 in. (45.72 x 96.84 x 39.37 cm);18 x 38 1/8 x 15 1/2 in. (45.72 x 96.84 x 39.37 cm)
Museum Purchase


March 28, 2009
The form of this stone block and the distribution of its carved decoration indicate that it once formed the right-hand impost block of an elaborately decorated doorway of a church in northern Burgundy. The smooth portions of the block would have been bonded to the wall, while the top of the impost would have held a stone tympanum and perhaps a lintel that spanned the opening of the doorway. This supporting function is powerfully visualized in the angel that emerges from a cloudbank on the inner curve of the block and appears to support the stone above him on his back, like Atlas. On the front of the impost, a bird grasps the tendrils of a vine while stretching back to pluck an enticing fruit. The pulsating rhythm of vine scrolls would have continued onto the capitals and moldings slotted into the wall next to the impost block, and the decoration would have run across the entire doorjamb in an impressive display of virtuosic stone-carving.

Subject Matter:

This console originally formed part of a monumental stone portal ensemble at the entrance to a church. The robustly carved angel on the inner face of the block conveys the weight-bearing function of this piece while simultaneously demarcating the boundary of the sacred space inside the church. On the outer face of the console a vine scroll coils around a bird plucking grapes, a common motif of natural abundance in twelfth-century Burgundian sculpture that bore paradisiacal connotations.

Physical Description:

A three-quarter length angel, robustly carved in high relief, emerges from a cloud bank on the curved inner face of the console. The outer face of the console bears a tightly wound vine scroll carved in shallower relief with a bird at its center. The bird grasps the vine with its left leg while stretching back to grasp a cluster of grapes in its beak.

Usage Rights:

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