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Stone capital with rows of leaves

This gray stone capital has a narrow, semi-cylindrical base that widens near the top. The capital is carved into a stone block wider than the narrow columnar base, so the block is visible from the front. The capital is carved with two rows of many-lobed acanthus leaves. The leaves curl outward at the top of each row. A row of repeating flower and leaf shapes stretches across the top of the capital.

Gallery Text

These two capitals, from the Benedictine monastery of Moutiers-Saint-Jean in Burgundy, France, are part of a larger set of thirteen held by the Harvard Art Museums; together they form one of the most significant ensembles of Romanesque capitals in the United States, showing the depth of variety such sculptural programs could achieve. The foliate capitals in this group demonstrate a sophisticated play and variation on Classical models; elements traditionally forming Corinthian capitals, like acanthus leaves and volutes, are here abstracted, varied, and reconfigured into new formations. On the column at left, the acanthus leaves are divided into two rows, their growth crowding the asymmetrical volutes above. On the right, the forms of the leaves are stripped bare, so that only the vertical shafts and the parabolic thrust remains. The curled leaves visible on the left are on the right abstracted into tight ovoids, and the volutes at the top of the capital are more organic, the knot of their curls bulging outward.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Unidentified Artist
Capital from Moutiers-Saint-Jean
Architectural Elements
Work Type
architectural element
c. 1125-1130
Creation Place: Europe, France, Moutiers-Saint-Jean
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1012, North Arcade
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

64 x 62 x 49.3 cm (25 3/16 x 24 7/16 x 19 7/16 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Arthur Kingsley Porter, "Romanesque Capitals", Fogg Art Museum Notes (1922), pp. 22-36, repr. as fig. 11
  • Linda Seidel, "Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections: IX: The William Hayes Fogg Art Museum: I: Burgundy", GESTA (1972), vol XI, no. 1, no. 1d, repr.
  • Neil Stratford and Jean Dupont, "Sculptures de Flavigny (Côte-d'Or)", Mélanges d'histoire et d'archéologie offerts au professeur Kenneth John Conant, Éditions Bourgogne Rhône-Alpes (Mâcon, France, 1977), pp. 97-120, p. 120, repr. as photo 30
  • Walter Cahn and Linda Seidel, Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections, volume 1: New England Museums, Burt Franklin & Co., Inc. (New York, NY, 1979), no. 1d, fig. 124
  • Neil Stratford, "Sculpture Romane Originaire de Moutiers-Saint-Jean", Mémoires de la Commission des Antiquités du Départment de la Côte-d'Or (1980-1981), Tome XXXII, pp. 327-335, p. 327
  • Jane Hayward and Walter Cahn, Radiance and Reflection: Medieval Art from the Raymond Pitcairn Collection, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1982), p. 81
  • Lore Holmes, Charles Little, and Edward V. Sayre, Elemental Characterization of Medieval Limestone Sculpture from Parisian and Burgundian Sources, Journal of Field Archaeology, Taylor & Francis (Boston: Boston University for the Association of Field Archaeology, Winter 1986), vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 419-438
  • Masuyo Tokita Darling, "The Foliate Capitals of Perrecy-les-Forges: Implications for Cluny", GESTA (1988), XXVII no. 1/2, pp. 73-82, p. 77; repr. in b/w p. 79 as fig. 15
  • Neil Stratford, "La Sculpture Médiévale de Moutiers Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean-de-Réome)", Congrès Auxois-Châtillonnais (Paris, 1989), pp. 157-201, p. 171; repr. in b/w p. 170 as fig. 19
  • Elizabeth Bradford Smith, Medieval Art in America: Patterns of Collecting 1800-1940, exh. cat., Palmer Museum of Art (University Park, PA, 1996), p. 176
  • Christine Smith, ed., Before and After the End of Time: Architecture and the Year 1000, exh. cat., George Braziller (New York, NY, 2000), pp. 38, 52
  • Kathryn Brush, Vastly More than Brick and Mortar: Reinventing the Fogg Art Museum in the 1920s, Harvard University Art Museums/Yale University Press (Cambridge MA / New Haven, CT, 2003), pp. 54-56
  • The Limestone Sculpture Provenance Project, website, 2004
  • Kathryn Brush, "The Capitals from Moutiers-Saint-Jean (Harvard University Art Museums) and the Carving of Medieval Art Study in American after World War I", Medieval Art and Architecture after the Middle Ages, ed. Janet Marquardt and Alyce Jordan, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 2009)

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 1012 North Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at