Probably France or Germany, 14th century Sandstone.
Octagonal wreath tapering downwards and worked in relief with four figures. Depiction of two saints with open books in their laps (probably depicting a virtue) and a man with a drinking jug chased by a monkey (probably depicting a vice).
67 × 67 × 46 cm.
Maître Marc-Arthur Kohn, auction sale, Sunday 13 November 1988, lot 136
Private collection, Switzerland, acquired at the above auction
The unusual iconography of a monkey in architecture is read in Christian symbolism as a symbol of evil or satire. The "Physiologus" (a collection of medieval texts on animal symbolism) reads the monkey as an image of the devil (cf. Friedrich Wilhelm, 1914, No. 7a). In German architecture and sculpture, the monkey can be found in various places, e.g. on the galleries of Worms Cathedral, on the west porch of Magdeburg Cathedral or on the gargoyle console at Freiburg Cathedral. In the French-speaking world, the monkey is caricatured as an idol, as illustrated by the cathedrals of Paris, Amiens and Chartres. (Cf. E. P. Evans, "Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture", London 1896./ Oswald A. Erich, "Die Darstellung des Teufels in der christlichen Kunst", vol. 8, Berlin, 1931.)