(active c. 1100 in Central France)

The Building of the Tower of Babel

c. 1100
Abbey Church, Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe (Vienne)

The fresco cycle in the vault of the monastery church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe narrates stories from the Old Testament in a rather confusing sequence. When establishing the narrative composition, priority was given to the arrangement of narrative events rather than to the continuous narrative flow. Thus, popular subjects, such as the building of the Tower of Babel, were made to stand out in spectacular fashion.

The scene depicting the building of the Tower of Babel even turns into a kind of visual instruction in the state of the medieval building trade: the rough-hewn ashlar blocks are carried along on men's shoulders. Holding an angle-iron in his right hand, we see an architect standing on the tower, about to take up a stone which somebody is handing to him. A mason in the foreground is taking mortar out of a bucket. next to the bucket there is a cable which used to pull up the container. Then, suddenly, God the Father makes his appearance in order to punish the worker's actions with the confusion of tongues.