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Gallery Text

The twelfth century saw a remarkable proliferation of monumental sculpture, primarily on the architectural elements of churches and abbeys, like column capitals and doorways. The subjects were often drawn from scripture. The front face of this capital shows the angel Gabriel telling Zachariah that his wife, Elizabeth, will bear a son, John the Baptist. At hearing the news, Zachariah, a priest, falls silent and is unable to speak. Medieval commentators interpreted Zachariah’s silence as foreshadowing the replacement of the old Hebrew law with Christianity. Comparison with other capitals from the same abbey suggests that the auxiliary scenes on the sides may be elaborations or commentaries on the theme of the front face, but their subjects here remain unknown. On the right face, a young man pulls a rope, which may be connected to the demon on the rooftop above; beside them, a hooded man carefully assembles the tiles of a roof.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Unidentified Artist
Capital from Moutiers-Saint-Jean; principal face: The Annunciation to Zachariah in the Temple; right face: Unidentified Scene; left face: Elizabeth and an Unidentified Man
Architectural Elements
Work Type
architectural element
c. 1125-1130
Creation Place: Europe, France, Moutiers-Saint-Jean
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1003, West Arcade
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Physical Descriptions

63.6 x 63.5 x 66.3 cm (25 1/16 x 25 x 26 1/8 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

  • "America Acquires Romanesque Art", The International Studio (October 1922), vol. LXXVI, no. 305, pp. 37-39, pp. 37-39, repr.
  • Arthur Kingsley Porter, "Romanesque Capitals", Fogg Art Museum Notes (1922), pp. 22-36, pp. 27-28; repr. as figs. 1, 2, 3
  • Linda Seidel, "Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections: IX: The William Hayes Fogg Art Museum: I: Burgundy", GESTA (1972), vol XI, no. 1, no. 1a, repr.
  • Walter Cahn and Linda Seidel, Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections, volume 1: New England Museums, Burt Franklin & Co., Inc. (New York, NY, 1979), no. 1a, fig. 120, 121
  • 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
  • [Unidentified article], Sacred Signs (December 1981), no. 13, repr.
  • 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
  • Neil Stratford, "La Sculpture Médiévale de Moutiers Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean-de-Réome)", Congrès Auxois-Châtillonnais (Paris, 1989), pp. 157-201, p. 167; repr. in b/w p. 166 as fig. 12
  • 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
  • Deborah Kahn, "Saint Augustin et le Diable, à propros d'un Chapiteau de Moutiers-Saint-Jean", Bulletin Monumental, Société française d'archéologie (2004), tome 162-3, pp. 189-192, pp. 189-192, repr. p. 190 as figs. 1-3
  • 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: 1003 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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