(active 1100-1150)

The Flight into Egypt

Cathedral of Saint-Lazare, Autun

Master Gislebertus was one of the greatest sculptors of the Middle Ages, who inscribed his name on the tympanum of the main portal of the Sainte-Lazare Cathedral at Autun. The majority of the capitals in the interior of the cathedral are also ascribed to him; most of them are on pilasters and therefore remain firmly connected to the surface. His sculptures are some of the most human, touching works that exist in Romanesque sculpture. The original capitals were removed and are on display in the Musée Rolin near to the Cathedral.

The Flight into Egypt, capital on the pillar opposite to that holding the Dream of the Magi, shows Mary who is looking at us in an almost personal manner, showing us her child. She seems to be floating on the donkey rather than sitting on him, a position similar to the enthroned Madonna and Child. But the sculptor has given his own interpretation to the hieratic "sedes sapientiae"; the mother's head is slightly bowed, and her arm, laid protectively around her child, creates a scene of human profoundness and sensitivity.