MASTER of Cabestany
(active 1130-1180)


Parish Church of Notre-Dame, Cabestany

The identity of a sculptor referred to as the Master of Cabestany is unknown to this day. The invented name he has been given derives from a tympanum which can still be seen in the church in the small town of Cabestany (Roussillon) near Perpignan. His personal style is so individual that his works are easily identified everywhere, and they are widely dispersed, from Italy, through France and into Spain, from Tuscany down into the Basque country. He is one of the most distinctive artistic personalities in the entire Romanesque period, similar to Gislebertus of Autun and Antelami of Parma.

This tympanum contains several scenes describing the Assumption of Mary, and unusually begins on the right with Mary waking from the sleep of the dead. The central scene depicts Mary giving her belt to doubting Thomas. The sculptor's unconventional style becomes apparent here, because his figures always have large heads with flat foreheads, long massive noses and oblique, almond-shaped eyes. Other characteristics include oversize hands with long fingers, and robes folded in the Classical style.