GISLEBERTUS
(active 1100-1150)

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1130-45
Stone
Cathedral of Saint-Lazare, Autun

In Autun in Burgundy, where the relics of St Lazarus had been brought in the eight century, The Cathedral of Saint-Lazare was built between 1120 and 1146. On the main portal, the Last Judgment is on display in the tympanum, and its centre Christ is enthroned in a gloriole held by angels. Each of the sides is split into two registers with the architrave underneath. The upper one shows the enthroned Virgin Mary and two apostles as observers of the judgment. In the lower register, to the right of Christ, eight apostles stand, facing the enthroned figure in the manner of petitioners. St Peter with the keys is guarding the entrance to the heavenly Jerusalem, which is represented as an arcaded structure, and into which the resurrected are laboriously trying to squeeze with the assistance of an angel.

On the opposite side, in one of the most graphic scenes in Romanesque sculpture, the Weighing of the Souls is taking place between the Archangel Michael and the Devil, and behind them stands Luxuria with snakes at her breasts. Behind Michael's back, facing Christ, is the twelfth apostle, who is opening the Book of Life that is being weighed for the Judge. The architrave depicts the resurrected being separated into the Redeemed and the Damned by an angel in the centre. The procession of the Elect on the left, which includes two pilgrims, contrasts with the army of the Damned on the right. This frightened crowd is apprehensively and fearfully moving towards the spot where the poor sinners are grasped by the hand of the Devil and pulled into a dreadful Hell. The medallions on the outer archivolts, with the labours of the months and signs of the Zodiac are a reference to the larger cosmic context of the Last Judgment.

The tympanum in Autun is especially vivid due to the elongation of the figures which, depending on the proportions, almost revokes their corporeality. Added to this is a sense of drama in the contrast of Good and Evil, for instance in the Weighing of the Souls, which could scarcely be more graphic. And strategically located right in the middle of the Last Judgment, in the area at the bottom of the mandorla where it touches the architrave, at the feet of Christ and yet above the angel separating the Elect and the Damned, the sculptor inscribed his signature: GISLEBERTUS HOCFECIT - "Gislebertus made this." Placed here right in the visual centre of the tympanum, his signatures elevates him - and his exceptional work into a divine sphere.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 3 minutes):
Guiraud de Bornelh: Reis Glorios