MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, French
(active 1130s at Vézelay)
Main portal (detail)1130s
Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Vézelay
The picture shows the head of Christ from the Ascension and Mission of the Apostles on the tympanum in narthex of Sainte-Madeleine, Vézelay.
The portal leading from the narthex into the nave was executed by the "Master of the Tympanum" and his school. The Christ at Vézelay is of a type halfway between the terrifying avenger-prince at Moissac and the man-God of Chartres. By isolating the head and bust against a plain background, the master gives the image its full importance, centring Christ's regal head with its elongated but regular features against the crossed halo. In type the head is still Romanesque, but it is already animated by an inner spirituality, bringing the Son of God, preoccupied with his evangelical mission, closer to mankind.