(active 1100-1150)


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 — 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 Judgment; it is a huge work (over 6 m. wide at the base) and a masterpiece of expressionistic carving, conveying with awesome power both the horror of the damned and the serenity of the elect. Most of the rest of the sculptural decoration of the cathedral can be confidently attributed to Gislebertus. It includes a carving of Eve, one of the few surviving fragments of the north doorway (now in the Musée Rolin, Autun), a large-scale reclining nude without parallel in medieval art, and the decoration of 60 or so capitals. These display his great fecundity of imagination and range of feeling.

It is highly probable that Gislebertus was trained in the workshop that was responsible for the decoration of the abbey of Cluny, the most influential of all Romanesque monasteries, and that he worked at the nearby cathedral at Vezelay before going to Autun. 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.