Portrait of a Monk? – Amuse Bouche #16 (Dennis Aubrey)

Today’s amuse bouche comes from one of our favorite contributors at Via Lucis, Albert Pinto. Albert has written articles and translated others into French for us, and we had the great pleasure of visiting with Albert and Monique at their home in Aix-en-Provence a few years ago.

Albert sent this photograph of a modillion at the Église Saint-Julien-de-Brioude in Concèze in the French department of the Corrèze. As I looked at it, I wondered if was a baker cutting a loaf of bread, or perhaps a sculptor with a tool for his work.

Modillion, Église Saint-Julien-de-Brioude, Concèze  (Corrèze)  Photo by Albert Pinto

Modillion, Église Saint-Julien-de-Brioude, Concèze (Corrèze) Photo by Albert Pinto

Albert’s supposition is more interesting. He writes, quite excellently in English, by the way, “In my opinion it represents a monk and I think it is a good example of the facetious way in which the medieval masons and sculptors criticized and laughed at the clerics that employed them. One can notice that the monk is cutting his loaf with an expression of greedy hunger rather than breaking the bread in a friendly sharing intention.”

Thank you, Albert, for this entertaining a tasty amuse-bouche.

This is part of a series of posts featuring an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized appetizer to whet the appetite of diners. Each of these will explore a single interesting feature of medieval architecture or sculpture. To see other amuse-bouches, follow this link.

10 responses to “Portrait of a Monk? – Amuse Bouche #16 (Dennis Aubrey)

    • Hein, actually this was a very common thing in Romanesque sculpture, especially in the non-essential elements like corbels. We have seen it all over France where clerics are mocked. In some cases, like the tympanum at Conques, the negative seems to have been directed at a specific person.

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