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Gislebertus

(c. 1125—1135)


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(active first half of 12th century).

French Romanesque sculptor. He was one of the great geniuses of medieval art, but his name has survived only because he carved his signature—‘Gislebertus hoc fecit’ (Gilbert made this)—beneath the feet of the central figure of Christ in the tympanum of the west doorway of Autun Cathedral in Burgundy. The unusually prominent position of his signature suggests that his greatness was appreciated in his own time. The tympanum represents the Last Judgement; it is a huge work (over 6 m [20 ft] wide at the base) and a masterpiece of expressionistic carving, conveying with visionary intensity both the horror of the damned and the bliss of the elect. Most of the rest of the sculptural decoration of the cathedral can be confidently attributed to Gislebertus. It includes the carving of 60 or so capitals and a large-scale reclining nude figure of Eve that is without parallel in medieval art (this piece, a fragment of the north doorway, is now in the Musée Rolin, Autun). These carvings display Gislebertus' great fecundity of imagination and range of feeling. It has been surmised that he was trained in the workshop responsible for the decoration of the abbey of Cluny, the most influential of all Romanesque monasteries, and that he worked at the cathedral at Vézelay before going to Autun (all three places are in Burgundy). He was already a mature artist when he started at Autun, where he worked c.1125–35, and his style changed little while he was there. His influence was felt in the sculpture of various Burgundian churches, and many of his ideas had a long-term effect on the development of French Gothic sculpture.

Subjects: Art.


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