If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:3:46

Historiated capitals, Church of Sant Miquel, Camarasa (Noguera)

Video transcript

let's take a look at this capital it's what would be referred to as a historian capital which is to say that it's a capital that actually has a narrative carved into it the most obvious and recognizable and decorative element and not narrative element are the representation of acanthus leaves which comes out of greek and then roman architecture but this is later this is medieval this is 13th century and one of the things one notices about them immediately is have deeply carved they are so you have these lovely dark shadows forming the edges of the leaves one of the first elements that you see is a story of the original sin story of Adam and Eve both of whom look really terrified they do look terrified and they're both covering themselves that tells us what specific moment in the story is they know their nakedness and God is probably at this moment confronting them and asking them why they hide from him I love the way that their eyes are drilled with these deep holes and then these large oval shapes around them so they just look like their eyes are bulging out of their heads from the terrible recognition of what they've done and how they've betrayed God they've actually seemed to have plucked one of the leaves of a canvas from the Capitol next to them in order to cover themselves and that's what they hold between their hands especially the top of that leaf to her chest and her hair fans out like a flame she's just a really powerful image the knowledge of what they've done and the consequences of what their actions are gonna be are already present here it's one ugly emotional in that sense and I think in the 21st century we would even say psychological now there's another old testament scene that's represented on this Capitol if we move to the right you actually have a pretty complicated image of a large arcing figure an angel you can see the angel's wings she's got her arms around two figures and it's Abraham and Isaac and of course both of these figures are stumpy and not in correct proportion in that way that we kind of think of as medieval and their drapery is indicated by lines trained as opposed to form so this is Abraham obviously about to kill Isaac his son and the angel who stops him from doing this terrible thing and you know the story is a prefiguration of the story of the it's also a critically important story in terms of the necessity of one's absolute obedience to God the protectiveness of the angel of her arms her wings covering the figures in the way that her head forms the corner of that Capitol I think is very powerful what's interesting is that the Angels face is not looking down to Abraham and Isaac but in some more direct way looking out to us in fact they all seem to be looking out to us in a sense beseeching us to follow this example the portals of many Romanesque churches were decorated with scenes of the Last Judgement and the idea was as you walked in you were reminded of the price of sin the price of sin was eternity in hell these are the choices that we face as humans about what we can do with our lives nobody is going to accuse Romanesque sculptors of being subtle and they're very you know they're very powerful and very emotional and they may have taken us a few moments to decode and visitors to the museum may have to look at a label but there is no doubt that any one infamous Church in the 12th or 13th century would have been able to read these stories very easily yes these would have been very direct messages and constant reminders you