(d. ca. 1150, Neufmoustier)

Baptismal font

Cast bronze, height 60 cm, diameter 80 cm
Saint-Barthélemy, Liège

In the 12th century, craftsmen were no longer anonymous. The four most-renowned names in Maas School sculpture (which due to the rich ore deposits near Dinant specialized in bronze works) from the Romanesque and late Romanesque period are, in the chronological order of their appearance, Reiner de Huy, Godefroid de Claire, Nicolas of Verdun, and Hugo d'Oignies.

The surviving monuments convey the range of the Romanesque craftsman in metal. In addition to precious liturgical objects for the altar, large-scale objects were among the major ornaments in Romanesque churches. Bronze doors decorated major buildings, and wooden doors were fitted with elaborate wrought iron hinges and cast bronze door pulls (or sanctuary rings) in the form of lions' heads. The font by Reiner de Huy in Liège demonstrates the mastery of bronze casting already available to metalworkers at the beginning of the twelfth century.

Five scenes, compositionally linked by a base wave and separated by trees, encompass the walls of the baptismal font at Liège. The subject matter ranges from the baptism of Christ in the Jordan through the baptism of Cornelius by St Peter and the legendary baptism of the philosopher Crato by St John the Evangelist, down to the preaching of John the Baptist in the wilderness to St John's baptism of the publicans in the Jordan. The font rests on ten (formerly twelve) cattle symbolizing the Apostles in medieval theology. The lid, destroyed during the French Revolution, was adorned with figures of prophets and apostles.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.