Stone capital carved in high relief on a molded background representing two animals holding a phylactery
France, XV century
50 x 75 x 33 cm
Provenance : Georges Demotte collection, then André Macé (see the photo taken by Demotte in his workshop around 1930).
Animal representation in medieval art is rich in the diversity of artistic forms and it flourish in churches, bas-reliefs and paintings, the only learning medium for the illiterate.
Creature of God, the animal helps man interpret the world, in a symbolic and moralizing role, particularly represented in the bestiaries.
In this capital, a lion and a bull are shown in profile, holding a phylactery. The lion is described with a profuse mane descending on his back composed by juxtaposed coiled strands; the mouth open showing its teeth and his foreleg raised holding a piece of phylactery; the tail erects coming back in s on the front.
The bull is represented symmetrically in the same pose, the sides perceptible under its flesh, his forelegs raised holding the phylactery which winds behind the animal's back. The texture of the bull's hair, short and smooth, is rendered by very slight parallel lines while the thicker hair of the lion is rendered by deeper and small juxtaposed conical strands.
Animals were symbols to be deciphered and the symbolism of the medieval bestiary drew its source from multiple references to the Old and New Testaments.
The lion in the Middle Ages is represented everywhere: in coats of arms, in the capitals of churches and castles, in manuscripts and in paintings. It represents the strength of the believer fighting sin, it embodies power and symbolize wisdom. It was from the 13th century that the lion received the title of rex animalium and its presence in churches, but also in castles multiplied.
The lion is often associated with Christ but it is also the animal of choice of the heraldry and the most used figure of the coat of arms.
This monumental capital comes from the collection of Georges Joseph Demotte (1877-1923) famous art dealer of Belgian origin specialized in Medieval French sculpture. Central figure of the international art market at the beginning of the 20th century, Demotte founded two sumptuous galleries in Paris and New York where he attracted important private collectors and institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
8 500 €