Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Impost Capital with Acanthus Leaf Decoration

mid-12th century
Made in Ile-de-France, France
Limestone with traces of polychromy
Overall: 14 15/16 x 32 x 18 7/8 in. (38 x 81.3 x 48 cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1983
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 3
This capital, and the one to the right with paired birds peeking through acanthus leaves and pecking at its seeds, resemble sculpture in the crypt of the royal abbey of Saint-Denis, north of Paris. As the burial place of French kings, Saint-Denis enjoyed unrivaled prestige; artistic innovations adopted there resonated throughout the region and indeed, throughout France. The choir of the abbey constructed under Abbot Suger is often considered the first example of a new architectural style, known today as Gothic. In the wake of the French Revolution, sculpture and building materials from a number of monuments were sent to Saint-Denis for storage; these pieces may, therefore, come from another church in the area.
Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis (?); Lucien J. Demotte, Paris and New York ; Raymond Pitcairn 1885–1966, Bryn Athyn, PA. ; The Academy of the New Chuch, Byn Athyn, PA. (sold 1983) ; [ Sotheby's, New York(June 10-11, 1983, lot 11)] ; Glencairn Museum, Bryn Athyn, PA
Hayward, Jane, and Walter Cahn. Radiance and Reflection: Medieval Art from the Raymond Pitcairn Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982. no. 30, pp. 97-98.

Smith, Elizabeth Bradford, ed. Medieval Art in America: Patterns of Collecting, 1800–1940. University Park, Pa.: Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, 1996. p. 228.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 78, pp. 64–65.

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