Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Saint-Guilhem Cloister

Date:
late 12th–early 13th century
Culture:
French
Medium:
Limestone
Dimensions:
30 ft. 3 in. x 23 ft. 10 in. (922 x 726 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Architectural-Stone
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1925
Accession Number:
25.120.1–.134
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 3
Nestled in a dramatic landscape of gorges and waterfalls, the monastery of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, from which this cloister comes, was founded in 804 by Saint William (Guilhem), legendary duke of Aquitaine and a member of the court of Charlemagne. Saint-Guilhem thrived as a pilgrim's destination on the road to the shrine of Saint James (Santiago de Compostela) in northern Spain.

The capitals attest to the skill and imagination of the medieval sculptor. Many imitate the leaf forms of ancient Roman types; others appear as if covered by vines, and one precisely represents the form of a hops plant. Still others present stories from the Bible, including Daniel in the Lions' Den. Inventively carved columns and pilasters imitate the bark of a palm tree, cascades of water, or clusters of foliage.

In the wake of the French Revolution, many elements of the cloister were acquired by local citizens. The elements seen here were purchased by the American sculptor George Grey Barnard before World War I.

The late eleventh-century limestone capital in the center (25.120.246), recut as a font, comes from the Auvergne or Guyenne region of France.
From the abbey church of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, near Montpellier, France; Pierre-Yvon Verniere, Aniane, France ; Charles Verniere, Aniane, France ; Antoine Labrigot, Carcasonne, France ; [ Louis Cornillon, Paris] ; George Grey Barnard American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York, New York (until 1925)
Tomkins, Calvin. "The Cloisters... The Cloisters... The Cloisters...." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 28, no. 7 (March 1970). pp. 308-320.

"Books - Medieval Monuments at The Cloisters: As They Were and As They Are." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 30, no. 4 (February 1972-March 1972). pp. 170-175, fig. 1-4.

Rorimer, James J. Medieval Monuments at The Cloisters: As They Were and As They Are. Revised ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. pp. 17-19, fig. 7-10.

Young, Bonnie. A Walk Through The Cloisters. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. p. 23-29.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 73, pp. 80-81.

Forsyth, Ilene H. "The Monumental Arts of the Romanesque Period: Recent Research." In The Cloisters: Studies in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary, edited by Elizabeth C. Parker. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. p. 4, fig. 2.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 27, pp. 58, 194.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 56–58.

Husband, Timothy B. "Creating the Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 70, no. 4 (Spring 2013). p. 4-47, fig. 8, 9, 14, 22, 71, discussed throughout.

Fozi, Shirin. "American Medieval: Authenticity and the Indifference of Architecture." Journal of the History of Collections 27, no. 3 (November 2015). p. 478, fig. 9.



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