MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, English
(active 1130s in Ely)

The Prior's Door

1130s
Stone
Cathedral, Ely

The portal of Ely demonstrate the special British love of rich decorative work. The Prior's Door of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire is the most lavishly decorated of the three entrances from the church's Romanesque cloister. The tympanum depicts Christ in Majesty in a mandorla held by angels. One of the unusual features of English Romanesque portal sculpture is visible on this portal: countless small figures are given space in equally countless ornamental medallions which are actually vine scroll decorations, while the large-scale relief, in contrast, is afforded little room. The Prior's Door encapsulates this conflict between the native traditions and Continental influences.