(active c. 1130-1145 in Vézelay)

Profane Music and the Demon of Licentiousness

Sainte-Madeleine, Vézelay

The picture shows capital no. 6 of the nave in Sainte-Madeleine, Vézelay. Attributed to the "Master of the Tympanum" at Vézelay, or perhaps, rather, to a pupil, is this scene in which a grimacing devil seduces a naked woman; she is charmed by the sound of a flute played by a juggler and by the scent of poisonous flowers. Certain features of the demon's head are noteworthy: his flamelike mane of hair serves as the capital's corner motif, and his twisted, expressive mouth is in keeping with the medieval conception of the devil - horrible, but not too disquieting or mysterious. The composition is extremely free, yet clearly ordered to carry out the anecdotal as well as the architectural function.